Soho Theatre, London ****
21 Dean Street
London W1D 3NE
Runs: 60 mins no interval
Review of perf seen Jan 29, 2020:
Audacious, sexy and stylish, Alexis Gregory’s Sex/Crime has arrived at Soho, finishing almost as soon as it has begun. No doubt this will not be the last it is seen. Rumours abound of further performances deservedly being planned over the pond.Sex/Crime certainly returns us to the naughty days of the 1990s and the In-Yer-Face young playwrighting tyros of Mark Ravenhill, Sarah Kane and Philip Ridley.
Like them, Gregory is not afraid to take risks, to show a slice of life only infrequently breaking the public surface. Into the dark world of serial killing, Gregory has added the nefarious, often dangerous world of gay sex.
Here is his `A’ and `B’ – Jonny Woo and Gregory himself – as two gay men drawn into close proximity by their apparently shared `adoration’ of the latest serial killer on the prowl.
Into more than a little S&M, `B’ has come to seek some servicing from `A’ who calls himself a professional.
And thus develops an uneasy dynamic in which Gregory, under director Robert Chevara’s acute direction, begins to unpeel what makes both men tick in their personal world and in the world at large.
For though Gregory has cleverly created an hermetic two-hander of personal dreams, desires, and hauntings, like Ravenhill, Kane and Ridley, Sex/Crime exposes a contemporary world where everything has a price, where commodification rules. Everything, even deepest desires become a product.
In Chevara’s hands, each stage of their developing `relationship’ becomes a carefully choreographed study in irony.
Gregory says he wanted to write a `queer, comic thriller’. And designer Rocco Vena provides a chillingly antiseptic environment of plastic walls and sofa, beautifully lit by Mike Robertson, to suggest a sealed attic playroom shielded from its own horrors.
To begin with Jonny Woo’s dominant `A’ is manifestly in charge, the consummate commercial director, dictating terms, revelling in providing and feeding his client’s blood-thirsty, salivating wishes to simulate a killing whilst making his own financial killing.
But by the end, the tables have been well and truly turned and even he has had to give ground to Gregory’s muscular, insatiable and ultimately calculating `client’.
Suffice to say, that despite the chills and horrors, Sex/Crime emerges as a remarkably frank and thoughtfully provocative exposé of desire in its more troubled form – there are wicked send-ups of the perfect domestic relationship, the aping of the heterosexual norm – but also one, tellingly of the search for love, for escape from the outside world and the sense of `Otherness’.
An unusual three course meal, within its 60 minutes, savour a spicy hors d’oeuvre followed by an equally hot main course, finished off by a bitter-sweet dessert guaranteed to give the most discerning palate a bit of a jolt and a lingering after-taste.
Hurry, hurry, only three more days left!
By Alexis Gregory
A: Jonny Woo
B: Alexis Gregory
Director: Robert Chevara
Designer: Rocco Vena
Lighting Designer: Mike Robertson
Dramaturg: Rikki Beadle-Blair
Sex/Crime was first performed at The Glory, London on April 9, 2018.
First perf at the Soho Theatre,, London, Jan 21, 2020. Runs to Feb 1, 2020
Review published on this site, Jan 29, 2020