City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Is This About Sex?

By Bill Dunlop - Posted on 12 August 2007

Show details
Traverse Theatre
Rough Magic (iaw) Traverse Theatre
Running time: 
Lynne Parker (director), Christain O'Reilly (writer), Paul O'Mahoney (set designer), Sinead Wallace (lighting designer), Breege Fahey (costume designer), Justin Murphy (stage director), Paula Tiernay (production manager), Elaine Walsh (stage manager)
Darragh Kelly (Daniel), Hilary O'Shaunghnessy (Cathy), Ali White (Kay), Rory Nolan (Paul), Ruth hegarty (Angela)

The territory of 'Is This About Sex' is somewhat defined when Cathy (Hilary O'Shaunghnessy) discovers that her customer Daniel (Darragh Kelly) wants to buy a dress for himself rather than his wife. This is simply the first and possibly least of the many confusions in this comedy. Daniel loves women in such an admiring way he describes himself at one point as 'a lesbian', and it takes a passionate affair with Cathy and consideration of a sex change before he can begin taking tottering steps toward a truer identity.

Daniel's wife, Kay (Ali White) has meanwhile begun her own affair with Paul (Rory Nolan), a work colleague who happens to be Cathy's boyfriend. While Cathy and Daniel blossom, however, Paul and Kay's relationship founders on their distinct metabolic needs - food takes precedence over sex.

There's quite a lot about competing needs in this neat wee number from Christian O'Reilly. About our sense of isolation and fragmentation in a world where sex is increasingly commodified and our expectations thereby inflated beyond what reality may satisfyingly offer. It's this troubled territory of unrealistic expectations and aspirations which O'Reilly explores so deftly in 'Is This About Sex?' If all the characters are unsatisfied (whether in an emotional or physical sense or both) they're also clear-eyed enough to recognise how small and fragile are their chances of achieving any sort of satisfaction at all.

Using the term 'slick' to describe theatrical production has fallen rather out of fashion, but slick is exactly what this production is; set-changes transform a shop floor to a bedroom in a moment, characters revert from bed-hoppers to respectable partners, the complexity of living smoothed over as quickly and discreetly as the sheets.

Despite the comedic pace of this piece, its the quieter moments which hold O'Reilly's show together, the stripped-down flashes of light and ticks of the clock which fleetingly define all our relationships, and on which actors and director have clearly and carefully focused.

Rough Magic are almost always a company to watch and worth the watching; 'Is This About Sex?' certainly is.

Time: 2-26 August (not Mondays), varies (see Fringe and Traverse programmes for details)

Copyright Bill Dunlop 2007, published on, August 2007