Sex Idiot is vivacious, provocative, sad, hilarious, challenging, welcoming, familiar, and totally brilliant.
Performance artist Bryony Kimmings does a superb job of connecting with her audience through story, dance, theatre and song, and while at times we are horrified by her brave anecdotes, secretly, I am sure most of us experience this horror because of the familiarisation; we know we’ve been there too.
In this 60 minute rampage back in time, Kimmings drags her audience's heart through many of her sexual encounters and her attempts to tell all of these people that she has a common sexually transmitted infection. She performs the gritty details; she tells us about hearts she has broken, agoraphobics she has cheated on, and builders she has offended. Kimmings dances through awkward, sweaty sex routines. She admits to us that after a few whiskeys she is gagging for it. Luckily, she is actually good at the stupid goofy dances which she performs, so we end up laughing with her and not at her. Kimmings says all the things about sex which girls are taught not to say. She sings a wonderful response to a popular Bob Dylan song, where she holds out placards with some hilarious names for vagina (‘Fuckingham Palace’). Then she leads us through those boring relationships where everything stagnates and we get excited about going to Ikea on a Saturday afternoon. She makes us feel normal for feeling sexually attracted to everything after a break up. She seems to constantly reference times she should have broken up with her partners, but didn’t. It is quite cathartic, really, as an audience to realise that we are not alone, and although things get extremely personal, Kimmings manages to create an almost perfect balance between the creation of spectacle and a personal, intimate portrayal of her life, resulting in unspoken but powerful communication.
She uses structure to her advantage and broken up into a countless number of smaller scenes, the 60 minutes goes quickly. The use of song is fun and joyful, but although she has drawn from and fed into popular culture, Kimmings risks turning into a parody of the early Kate Nash/Lily Allen style, which I think she should be clever enough to avoid. It does work in the piece; it just risks becoming a little overdone.
The costume and set design by David Curtis Ring worked well at times, especially when we could see them evolving in front of us and thus physically embodying Kimmings’ evolving relationships. But the staging was a problem; even in the third row out of around six, myself and my neighbours couldn’t see any of the action which happened on the floor of the stage, and thus we lost some of the essence of the dance and performances; the final scene was almost totally lost on me because of this. The long narrow stage does work, though, as Kimmings runs along it, giving us a sense of her mad energy.
What is most wonderful about the piece is her success in also communicating a fantastic balance between humour and joy and sadness. We find out toward the end that the Man in the Kaftan who seems to be the only one who she has felt a true and real connection with, is actually the one who gave her Chlamydia. Not only this, but Kimmings was in a relationship when she slept with him. It seems like real happiness in love is hard to find for her but at least she makes excellent, brave and original theatre.