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This Is Not Mills and Boon

Photo by Stephen Godfrey

Glorious Thing Theatre Co present, THIS IS NOT MILLS AND BOON, by Erica J. Brennan, at The Old 505, Eliza St., Newtown. 22 May – 7 June.

Says the writer, Erica J. Brennan;

There are still significant challenges in achieving a sense of playfulness towards physical intimacy.

The enemy, shame seems to be at the heart of Ms Brennan’s play/protest. Shame, and of course, fear.

We begin at a book launch of Nikki Sex’s latest collection of erotica short stories – not pornography – erotica. Present are us and Abby (Emma Chelsey), as the guest of Sol (Gabe Fancourt) , her new boyfriend, who is the publisher and manager of his mother, Mary – aka, Nikki Sex (Alison Bennett) – who at the launch reads a story with a lot of relish, much to the shock of Abby’s father, Abe (Lynden Jones), who arrives late.

On a white swathed curtained set with a Queen size bed set centre stage, and pillows galore, the play has naturalistic scenes dealing with the slow awakening of Abby’s sexploitations under the guidance of Sol and ‘needling’ from Mary, with the’ heated’ disapproval of her father, contrasting. In between, comic caricatured episodes from the short story collection appear on stage principally to draw laughter and be, what they suppose is naughty. Truly, the relished reading of the text by Nikki Sex was the funniest interlude – maybe the imagination provoked by the words was more interesting than the enacted scenarios?

However, all is resolved by the end and the culprit ‘shame’ is banished from Abby’s life, for, despite the play’s title, fear is, too, conquered. A Mills and Boon’s ending of happily ever after happens.

The tonal balance in the playing of the comic interludes, mixed with the psycho-babbling of the ‘real life’ traumas in the spinal cord of the play, is not entirely resolved by the Director, Richard Hilliar. There is ‘bravery’ and ‘bravura’ exhibited by the actors but it is not enough to keep all of us suspended in the material for over 90 minutes. It is a little tiresome and really sexually more than 50 Shades of Beige in its very, very vanilla games. Good Grief, in all the supposed EVERYTHING IS FAIR GAME claim of the writer in her program notes, the actors leave their clothes on and, or do it under the doonah. The only thing remotely dangerously exciting on this stage is when there is simulated sex that almost rocks and thrusts the bed to possible real collapse.

The production looks Ok and the costume design is fun, (Design, by Ash Bell). The Lighting is kind of lush and is Designed by Liam O’Keefe.

As Ms Brennan addresses us in the beginning of her program notes:

Dear Theatre Attendant,
What did you think of the play? It’s terrific right?
I suppose enjoying my own work is not entirely cool but neither is a play that lets sex be silly and sexy.

Yep. I don’t know, really, if this play is cool or not. But in my experience, ‘Hot’ it certainly isn’t. See for yourself, how pertinent it all really is. I reckon, THIS IS NOT MILLS AND BOON is mostly for beginners trying to validate their curiosity about how to enjoy sexual intimacy without the ‘curse’ of shame.