Journalist Camille Lapaix is led into the American Psycho styled basement of The Glory. She is hit with words as hard as Jonny Woo hits Alexis Gregory in the dark fetishism of Sex/ Crime.

As you are being led to the basement of The Glory, you cannot help but raise an eyebrow at the grimy and ascetic look of the cellar. Plastic sheets cover the entire space – walls, pillars, and couch, the only item on the stage – giving the set an American Psycho styling. You immediately know you’ve signed up for a different type of theatre experience.

The premise of Alexis Gregory’s new play, Sex/ Crime, is quite simple. Character A is a sex worker with a very niche playground, recreating the notorious killings of a serial murderer who targets gay men. Character B is a client, an admirer, longing to be immersed in the experience, willing, nay begging, to be a victim.

Sex/ Crime The Glory

Alexis Gregory & Jonny Woo (image courtesy of Jane Hobson)

Power dynamics in queer relationships are a delicate subject to touch upon without falling into the dominant/ submissive trap. Adding society’s tendency to exploit on fetishism into the mix could have easily turned into a nightmarish and clichéd storytelling. Instead, Sex/ Crime is a tour-de-force.

Gregory’s B is spastic, needy and impetuous, a perfect counterbalance to Jonny Woo’s A, who is as icy and callous as customer service agents come. The service B bought is promised to be as authentic as possible, a perfect reproduction of any case study of his liking. The experience delivers up to a point, as B disappointingly discovers when A bluntly refuses to murder him.

Sex/ Crime The Glory

Alexis Gregory & Jonny Woo (image courtesy of Jane Hobson)

The violence of Gregory’s play comes to light – or rather to dark – thanks to Robert Chevara’s ingenuous use of blackouts. As B is willingly being knocked around, tied up and gagged, the business-like attitude of A exudes silent dominance – clipboard in hand, ready to tick off the answers of his customer-satisfaction survey.

‘Thank you for coming’, he peeps as he headlocks B.

There is no denying the chemistry between Gregory and Woo – both are electric presences, merging and standing ground against each other instead of clashing. But the true masterpiece is Gregory’s writing, words that hit you almost as hard as A hits B. The pace and melody of the prose interlock with a rawness as brutal as it is poetic; the dialogues cut with the precision of a sharp knife, opening wounds to allow vulnerability and sensibility to bleed out.

Sex/ Crime The Glory

Alexis Gregory & Jonny Woo (image courtesy of Jane Hobson)

The violent coarseness of Sex/ Crime is not its cornerstone – it is a gay man’s experiences of intimacy and closeness. In the dim light of The Glory’s basement, the audience experience characters who are more than their fetishism of violence, characters who deny themselves human connections and turn towards vice. The power dynamic between Gregory and Woo is at odds, merging and shifting, moving as if a separate entity of its own.

With Sex/ Crime, Gregory aims to tackle the stigma around the fetishisation of sexual violence and society’s preoccupation with both moral codes & transactional relationships. He has done this eloquently, sharply and with knife-like humour.

 

 

★★★★☆

Sex/Crime runs at The Glory until 28 April 2018. For further information, please visit the venue website.