Review by Rosie Holmes
Down in the depths of Waterloo at 6.30pm on a Friday night, giggles can be heard as Thistle and Rose Theatre’s one-hour show, Post Sex Spagbol, tickles a largely female, millennial audience. Told by a three-woman ensemble this is a comedic story of what it is to be a woman in the 21st century.
Written by Katie Bignell, this pacey show follows the story of Krissy, a twenty-something whose father has arranged a job for her (I believe this is what the kids are calling a nepo baby) as a sex-ed teacher at her old, very posh, all-girls boarding school. "What could possibly go wrong?’"she asks the audience at the outset of the play. What follows is a frank and forthcoming story exploring the societal pressures of being a woman.
The drama begins to unfold as Krissy begins her role as a sex-ed teacher. After having an ‘adult sleepover’ with her best friend in which they discuss whether their lives are already preordained, Krissy decides that no harm can come from taking her dissatisfaction with her life out on her naïve teenage pupils. In one particularly funny scene, Krissy teaches her pupils that ‘the pull-out method’ is the safest method of contraception amongst other pieces of advice so forthcoming I couldn't possibly repeat it.
The cast is made up of three young performers; Bignell, Georgia Livingston and Signe Ebbesen, who all provide accomplished comedic performances. In an interesting direction, all three performers share the role of Krissy, something it did take me a while to get to grips with. However, once settled, this is an interesting and effective choice. Whilst the audience see Krissy making questionable choices, the other actresses also stand by and look on with concern and often disgust, allowing for some powerful self-reflection. The use of all three women as Krissy similarly enforces the idea that there is a bit of Krissy in all of us.
The three actresses, also play the other characters in Krissy’s life; her pupils, her estranged mum, her ex-boyfriend. They slip into these roles effortlessly, whilst they are often exaggerated performances this only adds to the comedy of the show. Particularly enjoyable was Livingston’s portrayal of a teen pupil, questioning her teacher on everything from whether to shave her toes, to whether to use one hand or two.
This piece is frank and unashamed in its portrayal of womanhood. Sometimes uncomfortable to watch, this is one of the strengths of the show. Discussing the validation one gets from a thirst trap social media post, or to shave or not to shave, the show reassures the audience that their experiences as women are not so unique after all.
Whilst the title of this show will lead you to believe this is simply a comedy about sex, what actually unfolds is something a lot richer in its societal observations. That’s not to say, this is not an exceedingly funny show, its pacey and witty and full of jokes. But there lies beneath the humour a deeper exploration of what it is to be a girl. We see Krissy confess that to be wanted is the deepest form of gratification one can feel, searching for connections with those around her. Ultimately, Krissy is just a girl trying to find her way in a world that expects a girl to be ‘perfect’. The moments that Krissy opens up to the audience and explains her true feelings are powerful, and clearly resonate with the audience, myself included.
The set is simple, but effective in its use. Three white pillars make up the set, littered with pink props; glitter phone cases and bottles of wine. The pillars are constantly transformed from school desks, to a bed, to the sofa on which Krissy chats with her estranged mum. The multi-use of these pillars could be chaotic, but the direction by Caitlin Lee Smith ensures this is a polished and effective performance.
This piece explores the young female adult experience in a highly funny yet touching way. Admittedly, some of the jokes don’t always land, but every woman watching will see a piece of herself in Krissy; from her anxiety, to the ridiculous reasons she finds to message her ex. Bignell has created an extremely relatable story that does not shy away from the uncomfortable. But by doing so creates a piece that will resonate with many. Ultimately, Post Sex Spagbol, was a delightfully funny and enjoyable way to spend a Friday evening.
Post Sex Spagbol has now finished its run at Vault Festival, the Festival continues its run until Sunday 19th March 2023, listings are available here- Events | VAULT Festival