Photo: Matt Spike Photo: Matt Spike

Tom Griffiths reviews Sex/Crime, on at Soho Theatre till 1 February

Sex/Crime, is a tightly structured hour-long two-hander, about two middle aged gay men trying to find love and self-acceptance in a dystopian contemporary London. Piled with heaps of dark humour and plenty of laughs, this impassioned, provocative and at times angry play, crams in a huge amount of witty social commentary with some genuinely poignant moments as the two characters ‘A’ and ‘B’, try desperately to find, or refuse, connection in a frightening world.

‘A’ and ‘B’, meet to recreate the killings of a famous gay serial killer for their own sadomasochistic pleasure, but like everything in the cut-throat London streets outside the attic where they meet, it’s transactional and it’s not going to come cheap, especially as ‘A’ positions himself as the provider of an unparalleled service.

‘B’ it seems is willing to pay everything he has to go ‘all the way’ in this re-enactment of sex, violence and depravity, and fully expects (and hopes) not to survive the night.

It becomes clear they both want to escape the twisted world outside and lose themselves in their dark all-consuming macabre fantasy world, where every bruise and mark is to be cherished as a sign of a truly ‘authentic experience’. ‘A’ beats ‘B’ repeatedly and ‘B’ keeps coming back for more. As the two men find they are drawn to each other in a way that shakes the professional cool of ‘A’, the power dynamic starts to shift, and ‘B’ starts to become more and more demanding. As the night spirals out of control towards its surprising conclusion the two men have to face some uncomfortable truths; perhaps love and tenderness is something that they want after all, but are they strong enough to let it in?

It’s a highly entertaining hour that deals with the experience of gay men heading inevitably into their mid-forties in a hard city, dealing deftly with themes including self-loathing, fitting in with the straight-set, gay relationships, loneliness, depression, violence, shame and a whole lot more.

‘Sex/Crime’ is written by playwright and performer Alexis Gregory whose recent self- performed ‘Riot Act’ played to great acclaim in the West End. Gregory’s ‘B’ is an outrageously camp but also delightfully dark and layered character, played with relentless energy, if not always subtlety. ‘A’ is played by celebrated alternative drag artist, Jonny Woo in a rare acting role, is the smart Top, who is running from reality just as hard as his counterpart.

It doesn’t rewrite the rule book, but it’s a rip-roaring show packed full of camp gags and genuine pathos; a great one to catch before hitting the Soho nightlife.

by Alexis Gregory
Directed by Robert Chevara
Soho Theatre, Upstairs
21 Dean Street
London W1D 3NE
21 January to 1 February 2020

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