Camden People’s Theatre is currently hosting the Hotbed festival, featuring shows all about sex. The performances vary; from one woman shows to musicals with eleven cast members. The one thing they have in common is that they each discuss sex, in some kind of way. I will be seeing four shows in total and reporting back to CUB on what I find.
First up is Oh Yes Oh No by Louise Orwin, a one-woman performance discussing women and their relation to rape culture, featuring Barbie dolls, audience participation, and a Radiohead cover. Despite this eclectic mix of elements, Orwin explores her subject creatively and delicately, while interacting and engaging with her audience. Oh Yes Oh No raises important questions that often go unasked, let alone unanswered. Discussing what happens after sexual assault, and how it effects your relationship to sex, is rarely talked about, leaving women feeling confused and guilty about their response. It is this response that Orwin occupies herself with in her performance, showing that there is no right or wrong way to react. While it was, at times, hard to watch, it is so important that these issues are being talked about. It should be difficult to sit through, because talking about rape will never be a comfortable experience. However, Orwin succeeds in sharing her perspective with us in a raw and honest way, and we have to thank her for sincerity.
Next is Spill: A Verbatim Show About Sex, by Propolis Theatre. Spill somehow manages to cover every element of sex; from first sexual feelings and experiences, the concept of virginity and stories about losing it, sexual assault, masturbation, fantasies, taboos, relationships, sexuality, and gender identity. Not only does it touch upon each of these aspects, but manages to give each one the attention and time they deserve. They aren’t afraid to get up close and personal with some intimate stories, taken from real interviews. The play affirms how important it is to talk about sex, especially about the things that confuse or frighten us. It proves that, while everybody’s experience with sex and gender will vary, we’re all just trying to work it out. Nobody ever really knows what they’re doing or feeling, and that’s okay. Spill is very character driven, and every role is so brilliant that not one gets lost in the cast of eleven. Each role is packed with their own history and experience of sexuality, establishing the range of sexual experience and the validity of each one. The show was packed with equal parts humour and poignancy, making it a highly enjoyable experience.
The Hotbed festival is on until the 14th of May, I would highly recommend going to see a performance.