BRIGHTON FRINGE REVIEW: Darkroom Diaries @The Marlborough

Spencer Charles Smith May 16, 2017

Sexy comedy (but at whose expense?).

Standing in nothing but tighty-whities and a leather harness, Dutch comedian Johan Goossens is a charismatic storyteller who knows how to beak the ice before sharing (over-sharing?) quirky, awkward and sometimes sticky anecdotes about his colourful sex life.

DARKROOM DIARIES is 60 minutes of frank and funny sexual confessions, broken up by short kitschy songs reminiscent of classic Victoria Wood.

A school teacher by day, Goossens turns the performance into a learning opportunity, educating the heterosexual members of the audience on gay vocabulary like ‘top/bottom’ and gay routines like popping poppers and douching. He also had us raise our hands at certain questions, humorously noting that no one ever admits to being a bottom.

Strangely, for a show titled ‘Darkroom Diaries,’ there was very little time devoted to Goossens’ darkroom experiences. In fact, I can only recall one moment in the hour-long performance that directly addressed a darkroom; instead, Goossens discussed sex more generally. I wasn’t bothered by this, but such a misleading title could’ve left some audience members unsatisfied.

Although I enjoyed listening to Goossens (I could’ve listened to his dulcet tones all night long) I found some of his comedy problematic (if not reductive).

At one point he described vaginas as ‘disgusting’ and at another point he took a cheap shot at lesbians. As the show went on it became quite clear to me that his target audience was well-endowed, uninhibited gay men, and I wondered if the female members of the audience felt at all alienated.

As someone who presents himself as progressive, open-minded and sex-positive – and in a venue that endeavours to create a genuinely inclusive queer space in Brighton – I was surprised to hear Goossens drop the odd misogynist comment in a seemingly well-meaning piece about taking pride in your body and sexual (mis)adventures.

DARKROOM DIARIES by Johan Goossens

Venue: Marlborough Pub Theatre

Dates: 12-14 May

Reviewed by: Spencer Charles Smith