JOYCE MCMILLAN on ALL THE SEX I EVER HAD at the Arches Theatre, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 10.5.13.
4 stars ****
IN THE FOREGROUND, there are five little round tables, covered with photographs and mementoes; to the right, there’s a sound man, occasionally telling us what year we’ve reached. And on a raised platform a little further back, there are five good-looking people now in their late 60’s, sitting at microphones, telling us about their sex lives, in some detail; all the sex they’ve ever had, the good, the bad, the hilarious, and the ugly.
Over the last decade, reality theatre – in which the performers are just people, appearing as themselves – has become a vital part of the dramatic landscape; and although the meaning of its emergence is infinitely debatable, there’s no doubt that at its best, it can produce beautiful, shapely theatre. All The Sex I Ever Had – at the Arches this weekend as part of the Behaviour festival – is one of those shows, blasting lazy assumptions about “the elderly” by reminding us that the people who are rising 70 now were still teenagers when the Beatles released their first single, and belonged to the first generation to enjoy the sexual freedom of the 1960’s.
So there they sit, Michael, Robert, Christine, Morag and Aldo, telling their stories of childhood experimentation, teenage disasters, unintentional marriages, accidental parenthood, divorce, remarriage, internet dating, and happy self-pleasuring. The evening is breathtakingly honest, often very funny, and sometimes – perhaps too seldom – very moving; deep feelings remain a little veiled, although we can tell they are there. At the end, we’re invited to come down and meet the performers, over their little tables of memorabilia; and even though we have been watching these sexy, vibrant people for more than 90 minutes, it’s still a faint shock to see photographs of them as they were half a century ago, young, vulnerable, painfully beautiful, and waiting for life to sweep them off their feet.