Wardobe Ensemble’s 1972: The Future of Sex is one of the most relatable pieces of theatre I have seen in a long time, its messages of sex, empowerment and gender identity transcending eras.
Working fabulously as an ensemble piece, the play centres on the highly awkward first sexual encounters between young people. A young teen couple fret about whether or not to ‘do it’, two young women fall for each other, a taboo is broken between lecturer and pupil, and a young man’s (Anthony) struggle in coming out is portrayed in the most beautiful of manners.
What I love about this piece is the wonderful and ingenious ways in which the cast constantly have to work together. Live music, narration, dance and even space hoppers are used in a clever display where physical interpretations are used to convey emotions and, at times, physical actions that may have been a tad too graphic for a Wednesday night. What I value above all though, is how each differing scenario is dedicated equal attention and given equal importance – whatever your gender identity or sexuality, sex is universal, and this is a message the Wardrobe Ensemble capture brilliantly.
Collectively, the cast have impeccable comic timing (particular props to Tom England – “Brian is confused”) giving the play a pace and energy that other ensembles can often lack. A special mention has to go to James Newton in his role as Anthony (“his parents call him Anthony, his friends call him Tony, he calls himself Anton”) whose tender performance as the young man obsessed with Bowie, who wants to be able to just be who he feels he is, tugs at your heartstrings.
Performed in the beautiful Shoreditch Town Hall, which along with its handsome setting provides some great acoustics, the set is simple – 70s wallpaper along the back, and a row of chairs against the wall. This allows room for the heavily energetic piece; so much happens at once in a frenzy, which, if anything, serves as a good metaphor for any early sexual experience. The lighting is employed in a variety of creative ways that allow the bare space to become anywhere it wants to be: from a sitting room to a disco. Live music from guitarist Tom Crosley-Thorne and even a saxophone solo from actor Ben Vardy adds a marvellous touch to this already quirky performance.
Hilarious, incredibly clever, with a message that can apply to all, this ensemble have created a great play that is not to be missed.
1972: The Future of Sex is playing at Shoreditch Town Hall until 23 April. For more information and tickets, see the Shoreditch Town Hall website.