Shame, Pain and Heart
I hadn’t intended on writing a review for The Queer Historian’s latest Fringe show Sex Addiction: The Lecture because I already submitted a preview piece in April’s issue of Gscene. And Tommy (The Queer Historian) has become one of my closest friends in Brighton since moving here in January, so I acknowledge the possible conflict of interest. However, I woke up this morning still reeling from last night’s performance and I feel it is my duty as a critic and theatre-lover to write something. So fuck it, here goes…
Sex Addiction: The Lecture is a ruthless and raw confession of regret, shame, pleasure and pain. In a postmodern mishmash of audio interviews, talk show video clips, campy pop music, flashcards and scattered sequins, Tommy literally paints the stage (and himself) with the red-stained suffering that comes from being a sex addict. There was a point when Tommy was shaking so much – with rage or nerve or both – that I had to look away.
The show tackles the stigma that surrounds sex addiction and the surprising rejection that comes from so many people who refuse to classify it as a real addiction. More broadly, the show questions what makes an addict, with Tommy capturing the itch and scratch of addiction through vigorous choreography by Rebecca Evans.
Like many Fringe productions, elements of the show were short-changed by limited tech. If and when this show is mounted again, I want to see lighting that reflects the isolation often felt by addicts. I also think video could be utilised more (and on a larger screen), incorporating the audio clips already sprinkled throughout the piece. And lastly, the show needs a sturdier set design, but that would likely come with a more permanent theatre run.
By the end, the stage looked how I felt… a mess. And then Tommy offered the audience a chocolate bar and we all shared a much-needed cathartic release. But what hit me the hardest was what followed immediately after the performance: Tommy stood at the microphone, tears streaming down his face, and offered a heartfelt thank-you to his partner Ed (sat in the audience) for his unconditional love and support throughout the creative process of this show.
Without a doubt, The Queer Historian is an artist bursting with heart and the fact that he’s brave enough to share a piece of his heart with the rest of us is something I can’t help but respect.
Sex Addiction: The Lecture by The Queer Historian
Venue: One Church, One Church Brighton, Gloucester Place, Brighton, BN1 4AA
Dates: May 11-13