1972. It’s the era of Bowie, Angel Delight, and polyester collars so large you could land a small plane on them. It’s also, as a booming voice announces, the midst of a sexual revolution- though apparently not for this particular line up of awkward teenagers, who seem to squirm at the slightest suggestion of sex.
1972: The Future of Sex follows the awakening of seven beautifully crafted, and painfully relatable characters, composed by the Bristol-bred Wardrobe Ensemble. Girl next door Christine (Kerry Lovell), plans to lose her virginity to the nerdy Rich (Ben Vardy), seeking advice from the biologically inaccurate, pornographic hit, Deep Throat. Anna (Jesse Meadows), despite her conservatively beige upbringing, falls for the seemingly wild and free Tessa (Emily Greenslade) in the midst of the gay liberation movement. Meanwhile Penny (Helena Middleton) is aroused by the feminist free speech of her University professor (Tom England), but shocked when his words in class don’t match his actions in bed. Amidst all this, Anton (James Newton) stands alone in his bedroom, a Bowie-esque sexuality burgeoning inside him, not yet ready to face his family.
Each storyline is expertly woven into the next, with the help of humorous narration and a suitably vintage soundscape. This is matched by the exquisite period detail of the set design, the garish flocked wallpaper undoubtedly striking a nostalgic chord with some of the audience. There are some gleaming moments of comedy, (a particular favourite is Rich’s sleazy bandmate being beaten up by a space hopper), yet the entire show is underpinned by something much more poignant. Whilst forcing no moral agenda on its audience, The Future of Sex, highlights elements of sexual politics that are still relevant to this day. Feminism, homosexuality, and the power of porn are explored and exhibited in a thoughtful and compelling way. The result is emotional, and impactful, and reminds us that we may not have progressed as far as we thought over the past forty or so years.
The cast certainly packs a punch, and each scene is delivered with high energy and witty expression. I can hardly fault the Wardrobe Ensemble’s work, and so, I won’t. Though this sex is nearly half a decade old, it strikes a powerful chord with today’s generation of right-swipers. This is an intelligent, life-affirming piece of theatre, suitable for baby-boomers and millennials alike, and one that urge you to see.
1972: The Future of Sex is on at Shoreditch Town Hall until 23rd April, before setting off for Leeds in May.