What better place to talk about sex than at a sex shop. But before your mind goes too far into the gutter, Let’s Talk About Sex: All the good things & the bad things is not a how-to seminar on the latest boudoir toy, or a lecture on the mechanics of giving good head. It is a sometimes funny, sometimes uncomfortable (it is about sex after all) piece from four Studio 58 grads who think talking about sex shouldn’t make us so embarrassed.
Actually, to refer to The Art of Loving as a sex shop does it somewhat of a disservice. While it is devoted to sexual pleasure, the Broadway storefront is a far cry from the dingy retailers along Granville Street with their peep shows and fake Viagra. Bright and cheerful, it seems a fitting venue for four twenty-something theatre professionals to bare it all about their own experiences, and those of others, on the sometimes taboo subject matter.
The four – Vince Leblanc-Beaudoin, Leana Brown, Zac Scott, and Anais West – are not, as they say, “sexperts”. Instead, despite their young age (or maybe because of it), the quartet have come up with a format that easily puts its audience at ease. A combination of real-life stories, games, and the particularly funny “WTF” interruptions that they encourage through the evening, Let’s Talk About Sex uses both scripted moments and improvisation.
In the scripted moments, the four take turns talking about pivotal moments in their sexual lives. From the new mother who now describes sex as a hot dull knife running through her vagina, to another dealing with feelings of inadequacy around penis size, the stories are about as varied as the toys that line the walls of the venue. It is in these raw and seemingly unfiltered moments that are the most real and most engaging.
Where things don’t work quite as well are in the cast’s attempts to expand on their acknowledged place of privilege. As white and primarily straight (the one exception is West who identifies as bisexual), they try to introduce a more varied exploration through stories based on interviews. The problem is these additional perspectives are not as compelling. It also doesn’t help that other than knowing the age of these interview subjects we don’t always get a sense of sexual identity, and most certainly do not get a sense of ethnicity. My theatre companion on opening night likened Let’s Talk About Sex to last year’s Postsecret: The Show that attempted to bring the anonymous secrets from the popular website to life on stage. As with that show, hearing third-party stories is simply not as exciting as hearing the real-life stories of the actors on stage.
While there is a good balance of the serious and the funny, it does feel like a lecture more than theatre at times. Theatrically, the scene in which Scott and Brown tell two very different stories simultaneously was inventive and West’s Harry Potter fan fiction was hilarious. But what strikes with the most resonance is how easily these four are willing to open up and talk about their own experiences. And even while their perspectives might be a bit shallow, to stand-up and talk about your sex lives takes a fearless crew.
With tickets only $12, Let’s Talk About Sex is about as affordable as a box of condoms. Go, and let this be the catalyst for your own sex talk. Just be sure to leave the trench coat at home.
Let’s Talk About Sex: All the good things & the bad things by Vince Leblanc-Beaudoin, Leana Brown, Zac Scott, and Anais West. Presented at The Art of Loving (369 West Broadway, Vancouver) until January 23. Visit http://artofloving.ca for tickets and information.
CORRECTION: This review was edited to remove a reference about “no nudity”. While there the four actors don’t get naked, there are photos and videos of a sexual nature used in the production.