Review of The Sex Party at the Menier Chocolate Factory

A night of debauchery between wealthy couples at first seems like an overly sexual Brian Rix farce until he abruptly changes gears. Change comes in the seductive form of the soft-voiced Lucy (Pooya Mohseni), whose enigmatic gender identity creates confusion among the assembled company of ‘liberated’ straight adults.

Until this grenade in a dress sets off the process, the undressed soiree guests Alex (Jason Merrells) and Hetty (Molly Osborne) have vented a variety of opinions on hot-button issues like racism (“Why are there Aren’t there black people at your party?”), pronoun abuse, homophobia, and JK Rowling as she steps in and out of Tim Shortall’s wonderfully detailed cooking set for rumpy-pumpy in the offstage living room.

The outrageous Russian Madeleine (Amanda Ryan), wife of the wealthy and aging American Jeff (American movie star Timothy Hutton) is the most voracious of the guests, while the uptight Jake (John Hopkins), married to the flirtatious Gilly (Lisa Dwan , who shows off the thighs) , is the most reluctant participant. Johnson’s goals seem unclear until halfway, when the boulevard comedy shifts to brutalist social satire.

Drawing inspiration from the embarrassing party scenes in Alan Ayckbourn’s Absurd Person Singular and the sexual role-playing in Pinter’s The Lover, Johnson’s real target is middle-class hypocrisy, as exemplified by Alex, who is more concerned with blemishes. from wine on the Persian rug than from the wet stains on the sofa. .

Although the cultural references are everywhere: Damien Hirst’s shark in a minute, Netflix and NowTV. Next up – Johnson (who also directs) effectively puts the boot on the old Attention Deficit Disordered Islingtons who spread opinions like cheap confetti.

And when the most poignant line is given to the transgender Lucy (“It took me 38 years to come into the world the way I feel I should have made an entrance”), the play’s imperfections fade under the assault on the superficial. , empty and consumerist. characters whose thrill-seeking antics mask an emotional and intellectual bankruptcy.

Flawed but hard-hearted fun.

  • The Sex Party at Menier Chocolate Factory until January 7, 2023 Tickets: 020 7378 1713

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