Writer: Annie May Osborne
Director: Kitty Ball
Following its exploration of sharing data with faceless online services in Darknet, the latest piece from Resolute Productions retains its interest in individual experiences but has a far more intimate focus. Like a Virgin – A Verbatim Theatre Comedy Piece asks five people about the first time they had sex from which writer Annie May Osborne creates a narrative collage of their sometimes amusing, sometimes painful, stories.
Available online for a limited run, characters Connor, David, Becky, Mark and Tia describe their heterosexual experience of losing their virginity, set now and told in retrospect with actors recorded in their homes. Mixing gender experiences, a broader perspective is offered by Jes Hynes’ Mark who notes having slept with both men and women since and provides some moments of comparison.
In constructing Like a Virgin – A Verbatim Comedy Piece, Osborne creates a set of very different personalities, some of whom speak openly and in detail about the event and the varying emotions it created while others, like Kieran Rees’ David, offer a very matter-of-fact explanation, using few adjectives which speaks volumes about the man he has become.
Structured around the four ‘bases’, the material provided by each person is thematically arranged and interspersed with the recollections of others at a similar stage. Director Kitty Ball stages the actors as talking heads speaking directly to the audience, some with props like a box of Milk Tray, which Liam Glover’s Connor brought to his girlfriend’s house as a Christmas gift that night. These memory-triggers support the creation of scene, helping to establish the different contexts in which it happened.
Within each chapter, some stories have more to offer than others; at ‘First Base’ it is Mark who dominates, moving around his house as he recalls going up to the bedroom with the older woman who took his virginity. Here the difference between the quiet and choreographed process he discusses under this section makes for an interesting contrast with the ‘animalistic’ experience he references with a man, something this 23-minute piece could expand further.
Similarly unfinished is Tia’s story performed by Osborne who chooses to lose her virginity to a stranger, describing a harrowing and scarring experience in the ‘Fourth Base’ and ‘Aftermath’ sections. The saddest and most affecting part of the show resulting in physical pain, her story stops too soon. The longer-term effect this had on Tia, its consequences for her body and sexual confidence are not addressed.
These stories are interesting, varied and a valuable reflection on the experience but Like a Virgin – A Verbatim Comedy Piece needs some reflection on what that moment has meant to them all since. It is a rite-of-passage, given some focus in our society, so beyond the immediate feelings of relief, was the nature of their experience a reflection of the people they are now, did they take it all in their stride as David and Saba Nikoufekr ‘s Becky seemed to, or did it change or damage them in ways that they have never been able to reconcile?
Osborne’s production mixes jaunty comedy with wistful memories of an evening that most characters imply was a turning point of some kind. While the hazy reconstructions later in the piece are a tad cheesy and more sexual diversity would be welcome, this collection of experiences has more to say about the creation of character and its impact on future relationships.
Runs here until 13 June 2021