03 March 2015

Review: Sexercise

Aleksander Vass & Malcolm C Cooke
27 February 2015
Alex Theatre
to 29 March

Lyall Brooks, Nicole Milloy, Fem Belling. Sexercise

Sexercise could be a ripper of a show if it toned up and got rid of the flab.

Sexercise is a new Australian musical. Yay. It's opening in a great new theatre venue, the Alex Theatre in St Kilda (used to be the George cinema). Yay. But putting on a show at this stage of its development. Boo.

30-somethings Sam (Nicole Melloy) and Joe (Lyall Brooks) are married with a child are finding more time for exercising with their bffs (LuLu McClatchy, Cameron McDonald, Kristin Holland) than for each other or for sex. Their couple's counsellor (Fem Belling) suggests they try "Sexercise", which "loses" more calories than yoga. It does, and they get fit enough to set the iPad to record.

The super-brilliant cast make this show work. Each one bring more than the script and music offer and each deserve more than they're given. See it to see these six give everything they have to make the show work.

There's so much this story could explore: the demise of sex in long-term relationships, the impossible quest of body perfection, how porn affects perceptions of bodies and sex, forgiveness and understanding when someone really fucks up... But it's mostly easy jokes that everyone is thinking before they happen.

Great comedy relies on a core of great drama – make those stakes high, give them impossible choices, make them fail.  Sexercise fails with the too-obvious comedy and the never-really-care drama.

But there is something there that could be hilarious, shocking and real. Not long before the interval, the couple sing "Is it over yet?", about feeling obliged to have sex, and the show finally begins. Everything we needed to know about that couple is in that song. It's funny and honest – who hasn't been there! – and everything before is unnecessary back story. Act 2 is much better because things happen. They are still predictable and make serious issues trivial, but there's story and problems to be solved.

Successful and popular shows develop and grow. This is at workshop stage, not expensive ticket stage. At least cut the songs where the audience don't clap. But keep the McClatchy's "Vagina or penis" song; it's numbers like this that show how cool Sexercise could be.

And then there's the LED-screen design stolen from a 1995 screen saver and the Big-W-sales-rack costumes; Belling's baggy beige pantsuit is the highlight of costumes try for joke rather than reflecting character.

I really hope that this isn't the end of Sexercise. But it's still at kissing and downstairs outside grope stage of sex and not ready to move on.

This was on AussieTheatre.com.

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