Saturday, October 7, 2017

Stiff Upper Lip

The beauty of going to see a sex farce is that you're bound to talk about sex. What's key is inviting someone with good sex stories.

I shared tonight's performance of "Cloud 9" at Richmond Triangle Players with a girlfriend I've known for years, meaning I wasn't the least surprised when she exclaimed, "Ooh, a sex farce!" with great delight. What we didn't know at that point was that the play was as much about feminism, gender politics and colonialism as about sex.

After dinner in service of my hired mouth listening to '80s music, we found ourselves at the theater early enough to score some cookies for dessert and share a bit of catching up on our lives.

When I casually mentioned that I'd seen the Psychedelic Furs last weekend, she cocked an eyebrow. "Did I ever tell you I f*cked one of those guys?"

No, I'm quite sure you never mentioned it because I would remember that I had a friend who had slept with one of the Psychedelic Furs! But first, which one had it been?

She couldn't remember that, but she did recall having to cut it off after a while. "I got tired of doing it in cars and back alleys," she explained. "He was married." She might as well have summed it up by saying, "it was the '80s" for how of the era it sounded.

And speaking of dated, the first act took place in a proper Victorian-era British colony in Africa, so it dealt with repressed homosexuality, women trying to conform to what men wanted them to be and children being constrained by gender expectations.

Thank goodness I missed all that.

As the characters keep reminding themselves, "We're not in this country to enjoy ourselves," not what with that crushing white man's burden and all.

Just to mess with us, it also boasted a white actor playing a black servant, a man playing a wife and mother and a woman playing a young boy who already knows he prefers playing with dolls (or Uncle Harry) to doing manly things with his father.

It was a time when men believed that women were darker and more dangerous than men because of their dark, female, lustful impulses (rats, we've been found out). The problem, of course, was how few outlets existed for them to indulge them.

Act two updated the action to a London park in 1979, a time when mothers still reminded their daughters that you have to suffer a little for beauty. A time when friends could set up a menage-a-trois household and Grandma would happily watch the kids for you.

A time when feminism had at last made inroads into respectability.

The act's hook was that each of the actors now played a different character from who they'd played in act one, though this time there was only one man playing a woman.

Throughout the play, through orgies, women being given oral sex and a monologue about an older woman discovering the pleasures of self-stimulation, these characters are unabashedly casual about their sexual needs, asking anyone who appealed to them for it.

Shall we go to the barn and f*ck? Will you have sex with me? What's a f*ck between friends? You know, just like in real life? Well, not mine, but surely someone's.

As it turns out, a lot like my friend's. Because finally, we womenfolk are in this country to enjoy ourselves.


  1. my, my....starting to sound like Hugh Hefner here!!!!


  2. You think? The play was a fascinating reminder of how women's roles have changed.