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Sex and The Century (Manchester Pride - Fringe)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Venue: Chorlton Library
Where: Manchester

This piece promises to be a journey through LGBTQ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & those Questioning their sexuality) stories and histories, gathered from many people in Manchester and beyond. You are handed a program, a breakdown of the 11 acts within the show and a  note from Director Stephen Hornby about the company -VADA and the diversity in both age and life experience of its members. Aged between 20+ and 70+, this is a group of people witness to much social change and wanting to share it in a performances setting. 

Using big screens, sound effects and different types of performers, including Manchester poet – Angela Smith enchances the production. Along the way we get to meet Quentin Crisp (Patrick Hollis). He may be taller, younger, he may have darker hair, but this is him. Hollis has the voice and mannerisms, even the look, mastered.

He takes us on a journey through his life, beautifully worded monologues stitched impeccably together with the repeated line, “You can touch me I am quite real.” A line of Angela’s at the end of this powerful piece strikes a real chord with the audience - “As brave as any Soldier in the Army that wouldn’t have him.”

Sex and the Century also also features an unrequited lesbian love affair and a very lonely man dying of Aids, and a character who hides his sexuality for many years. These factual elements juxtaposed with cleverly crafted filmed vignettes, projected onto a big screen.

Sadly, it’s not a perfect piece as some of the transitions are a little jumpy. But it does include recent news footage of when a group of lesbians broke into the BBC News Studios live in 1988 to protest Section 28 which was to be made law the very next day. This acts as a great reminder of a time not too long ago.

Sex and The Century has a strong and versatile cast, and is well directed and performed. With a little fine tuning, a better venue and a better technical set up, this piece would be outstanding.

- Paul J.Burgess


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