Sex/Crime at Soho Theatre
Roco Venna’s simple set for Sex/Crime consists of a red couch covered in PVC sheeting. We immediately understand the world we are in. The attic or “playroom” of a house is a space for gay men to act out their fantasies – once all terms and conditions have been signed, of course. A and B are the only names we are provided with as two men recreate the killings of a gay serial killer for their own sexual gratification.
There are moments of brilliance within actor and writer Alexis Gregory’s well-written script, which provides us with thought-provoking and memorable lines as well as the occasional laugh-out-loud moment. However, it’s not consistent and despite running at just one hour, the pace dips on several occasions, which is arguably down to the cast as opposed to Robert Chevara’s assured direction.
A play such as this requires strong actors to elevate the material to a convincing and captivating level and unfortunately, here it seems the cast are struggling with the weight of the script and its subject matter. The audience subsequently feel detached; although the characters aren’t intended to be entirely relatable, for a script to work well we still need to care about them. The lack of chemistry between the two is somewhat jarring, although Johnny Woo as B does eventually display the impressive acting he is capable of during the climax of the play. Gregory as A appears more comfortable in his role and the moments of violence he inflicts are executed brilliantly through the actor’s use of physical theatre.
There is tremendous potential in terms of the themes that are explored. Humiliation and violence and their link to sexual gratification as well as the media’s potential glorification of murder could all be examined more deeply.
Mike Robertson’s use of lighting and blackouts is highly effective and succeeds in evoking a foreboding atmosphere. There are certainly some tense and unnerving moments that linger in the mind.
The play is clearly aimed at a rather niche audience and it’s certainly not for everyone, but those who like their comedy dark will not be disappointed. Ultimately, though, this feels more like a work in progress than the finished article.
Photo: Matt Spike
Sex/Crime is at Soho Theatre from 21st January until 1st February 2020. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.