Wotever Sex – Punk!
It’s Wotever Sex – Punk night, and time to throw out the rule book, perfect our Mohawks and tattoo our eyelids in an expression of joyful anarchist abandonment. First up is cabaret circuit stalwart, Michael Twaits and childhood friend, Sandy Foster, to show us that musical theatre and cabaret CAN be punk, yeah! In yer face! And so on. In her alter ego as ‘Lovely’, Sandy takes the floor with guitar and small plastic baby (Jason) to sing us ‘Morals for Minors’. These include such healthy, family-friendly ditties as ‘Fucked Up Little Rabbit Boy’, ‘Headless Ferret’, and the side-splittingly funny ‘Little Lamb’, in which a small child cuts the feet of her pet lamb to prevent him running away. Lovely (and Jason) are a hard act to follow, but a splendidly dragged-up Michael manages it perfectly with a ‘Back to Black’ tribute to Judy Garland, seguing into his now legendary Stonewall piece. We’ve never felt so out and proud.
Darkening the tone considerably is next performer, Nathan Dean Williams, recently named one of the top three comedy acts by the Fringe Review for his one man show. We are not worthy, sir. His four monologues feature grotesque, sexually deviant characters in the diseased vein of The League of Gentleman, or Alan Bennett’s ‘Talking Heads’, if those characters had been warped, perverse, obsessed by the abject and actually interesting. Covering topics as divisive as necrophilia, sexual humiliation, sexuality of the aged, incest, rape, female misogyny and murder, we’re therefore surprised – and slightly disturbed – to find ourselves guffawing out loud. Even more surprising are the flashes of sympathy, empathy and even likeability that the characters evoke. We feel triumphant when the wife of a necrophile turns the tables on him; pity for the husband whose monstrous wife makes him dress up as Velma from Scooby Doo, emasculating him metaphorically and literally, and sympathy for the school teacher sexually obsessed with his mother. At other times we just feel a bit sick.
As with so much theatre of the grotesque, there are clever, sharp messages to each story – when the headmaster tells the male teacher that his sexual abuse was mere ‘high jinks’ and fobs him off with a voucher, we are reminded of the attitude towards sexual harassment that still persists. Ivy, the ageing sex fiend, may revolt us, but how much of this is down to her character, and how much to the fact that she is an elderly woman with a sexual nature? In presenting the abnormal as the norm, this enormously talented performed questions the binaries that delineate that normality, and appeals to the dark, nasty, supressed, and ultimately human side in all of us.
Providing some much needed light relief, Rubyyy Jones bursts on to the Wotever stage like a ray of sunshine. Very, very naughty sunshine. With her nipple ornaments flashing as much as her come-to-bed eyes, she initiates us into the subterranean world of bukaki. Reimagining what is assumed to be a fairly chauvinist practice through some self-penned erotica, Ruby offers us a utopian vision of queer sex in which past and present lovers come together (har) in one big bukaki party (rather than scratch each other’s eyes out, as is customary in these situations). After a brief disappearance she reappears as a vision of all that is erotic and sexy – i.e. naked and covered in black balloons, which she proceeds to pop, spraying what we hope is merely cloudy lube all over the audience.
After a quick clean up it’s time to welcome, all the way from Australia, dyed-in-the wool punk and queer bear Eric Kuhlman, who begins by singing us a song about trans lesbian lovers – ‘We’ll get Labradors and wear overalls’. Eric, you know us so well. This is followed by a delightful song about doing it like eskimos, prompting much nose kissing, a ballad about kissing your own elbow, and a very interesting version of ‘Private Dancer’ in which the rather desperate, despairing theme of the song is suddenly thrown into sharp relief now we don’t have the legend that is Tina Turner to dazzle us (we do, but she was not with us at RVT this eve, ed’s note). Not only is Eric brilliant, but he has a tummy we want to put our arms around and kiss.
We leave feeling challenged, curious, anarchic, and possibly a little bit aroused. Everything you’d expect from a Wotever Sex night, really. TH