Writers: Claire Sweeney and Mandy Muden
Director: Ken Alexander
Reviewer: James Garrington
Imagine a version of the bad date scenes from Sex in the City, but with the feel of a late-night stand-up routine by the notoriously graphic Bernard Manning; that gives you some idea of what to expect from Sex in Suburbia.
The show uses the idea of a radio phone-in to present some apparently true stories of disastrous relationships, all of which seem to involve sex in some way. These are shown as a combination of emails and phone calls, with some of the stories being shown live on stage, acted by different combinations of our three actors in the cast. Some of these scenes are very amusing and occasionally poignant: a woman’s attempt to seduce her football-mad husband certainly stands out for comedy, and an overly-long scene involving Annie the sex toy demonstrator is also memorable, though not necessarily because it is amusing. According to the programme, the show is supported by Ann Summers and a number of their products make an appearance.
The stand-out performance of the evening comes from the incredibly versatile Carl Patrick, who demonstrates great flexibility in his portrayal of a large number of very different characters – not only Rory the radio producer, but the inevitable man (and often the butt of the humour) in the different live scenes. With Patrick on stage are Lindzi Germain, as phone-in host Penny Crowe, and Claire Sweeney as herself. All of the cast work very hard as the show is pretty much non-stop – not only the three principal characters but also two more, credited only as understudies in the programme. Mark Pearce sets the scene as the warm-up man with some well-rehearsed but apparently ad-libbed humour, and Sarah Dearlove makes several silent appearances as Maud the floor manager.
A number of songs are interspersed with the phone-in and live scenes, and these give Sweeney in particular a chance to show off her fine singing voice, to choreography by Beverley Norris Edmunds. In fact all three of the cast show that they can sing and move, in some flamboyant costumes designed by Mark Walters. Walters also designed the very effective (and very pink) set, which makes full use of a series of boxes both as different pieces of furniture but also on-stage props stores, so the action never stops.
The show culminates with the selection of three members of the audience to tell their bad date stories. This is the point where anything can happen, and Sweeney as the interviewer manages the different personalities and tales well.
While not pornographic, Sex in Suburbia should really come with an x-rating; this is definitely one for an adult audience, and probably aimed at female groups (and there were quite a number of these in the Belgrade on press night) more than mixed audiences. If this sort of humour is your cup of tea, you will enjoy it enormously; if not, you will most likely find it partly amusing and partly unnecessary.
Reviewed on 12th March 2015 and on tour