Writer: Roann McCloskey
Director: Lolo Brow and Joel Samuels
Reviewer: Richard Maguire
It’s a provocative title, and writer/performer Roann McCloskey takes no prisoners, warning the audience from the start that her show will be explicit, and that people could leave if they wanted. Although My Father The Tantric Masseur occasionally tackles sensitive material, it’s mainly made up of consensual sexual anecdotes, which McCloskey recounts breezily and inoffensively.
McCloskey, who also directed Greyscale, one of the VAULT Festival’s feature shows, is a very likeable performer and the hour with her flies by. Half-Algerian and half-British, McCloskey had a very liberal upbringing highlighted in the stories she tells of her childhood when she first discovered the existence of sex. In these early parts, her parents seem set in their ways, but when McCloskey experiments with her own sexuality once she reaches university, they, too, become more open-minded.
Indeed, her father becomes so comfortable with sex he goes off to Thailand to become a tantric masseur, a move that McCloskey and her sister find both intriguing and mortifying. The title of the show suggests that this story will be the main focus of the evening, but it’s a story among many, each connected some way to sex. As McCloskey has sex with both men and women, she also discusses how she came out to her mother, who dismissed her daughter’s queerness as just a phase.
The anecdotes are so numerous that the show loses a narrative arc, and without an overarching story to drive the show forward, My Father The Tantric Masseur becomes a little flabby. It has nowhere to go. McCloskey needs a stronger plot to line up these stories, or otherwise dispense with plot entirely and tell these tales as part of a stand-up comedy routine with just a microphone for company. She certainly has the talent to do this, and some of the funniest parts of the night were when she interacted with the audience. She has been working with one of the directors, Lolo Brow, to hone her skills in working a room, and it’s paid off.
This is the first time McCloskey has presented a one-woman show and overall it’s an impressive debut, but sometimes being honest in a show is not enough, and some of her stories would benefit from using an artistic licence. A slight embellishment of the truth may provide some structure here. Like sex itself, there should be some foreplay before the real thing. And surely good sex deserves a fine climax?
Runs until 3 March 2019 | Image: Contributed