As soon as you walk into the black box venue at the Soho theatre to watch Sex/Crime you feel the sexual tension in the air. The throbbing club music and use of plastic sheeting in Rocco Venna’s set design are a premonition of the erotic material that is about to be performed.
At the very beginning the relationship between Jonny Woo’s character and Alexis Gregory’s is clear, authentic and well delivered. Woo’s character ‘A’ provides us with a dominating figure whilst Gregory’s hapless and eagerly submissive character, ‘B’, demonstrates the power balance between the two, setting the scene for the audience with little explanation. This is important because the piece starts at an extremely high velocity, not giving the audience much time to catch up. This pace doesn’t ease often for the first section of the play, only during tactical moments of lighting change, a credit to lighting designer Mike Robertson, which highlight the physical elements of the situation.
The fast pace alongside a cleverly written text, which is intrinsically funny and also deeply disturbing, is welcome whilst the rules of the ‘playroom’ are being established. However, later on in the piece, as a more complicated storyline becomes apparent, it left me feeling lost and desperately trying to catch up as the plot twists came thick and fast. From fairly early on it became apparent that a major plot twist was coming, and it seemed the piece was more focused on throwing in red herrings and confusing the audience, than it was maintaining a clear storyline. This, coupled with some perplexing directorial decisions, made the second half of the piece greatly confusing. The relationship between the two characters became confusing and the sense of linear time that had been established in the first half appeared to be completely destroyed.
The ‘twist’ that had been fairly easy to work out from early on, was delivered in a way that lacked lustre. The pace was lost and an overuse of black-out reduced the impact of what could have been a fantastic moment of the piece. The very final moments felt like an afterthought and in some ways ruined the show for me; it felt stodgy and out of tone in comparison to majority of the piece, which is quick and highly intelligent .
Overall Robert Chevara’s Sex/Crime attempted to deliver a high paced, mysterious and shocking story but unfortunately failed at the final hurdle. The comic timing and aesthetic of the piece made it enjoyable to watch, a credit to the performers and designers, but I left feeling slightly underwhelmed.
REVIEW BY ASHLIE BEDWELL
Sex/Crime is showing at the Soho Theatre until the 1st of February and tickets are available here: https://sohotheatre.com/shows/sex-crime/