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1972: The Future of Sex


The Wardrobe Ensemble
Shoreditch Town Hall

The Wardrobe Ensemble Credit: Jack Offord
Jesse Meadows and Emily Greenslade Credit: Jack Offord
Tim England and Helena Midleton Credit: Jack Offord

1972 is one of those years that are still occasionally denounced for having opened the floodgates to all the evils of the permissive society.

It is certainly a special year to the brash enthusiastic compère who opens the play 1972: The Future of Sex.

"This is it," he tells us. This is the year of Aquarius and the sexual revolution. But behind him sits a line of pensive and awkward looking teenagers who seem a lot less certain about this new age.

The Wardrobe Ensemble imaginatively cuts between short scenes depicting four stories of these young people exploring their sexuality.

There is Christine (Kerry Lovell) who has decided to sleep with Rich (Ben Vardy). Uncertain about what that involves, she frightens herself by watching a porn film for tips.

Penny (Helena Midleton) is becoming more political and is drawn to her radical sociology teacher Martin. (Tim England) When he takes her back to his home and begins a relationship, he finds that she is more sexually adventurous than he can cope with.

Anna (Jesse Meadows) is really excited by David Bowie’s television appearance on Top of the Pops. Visiting a record shop to look at his music, she finds herself sexually drawn to another customer Tessa (Emily Greenslade).

Anthony (James Newton) is also taken with Bowie’s appearance. Renaming himself Anton, he begins to question his sexual and gender identity.

The stories are performed with considerable humour. The characters innocence is treated with gentle sensitivity and an almost romantic respect.

These were for the characters exciting times when they felt the world was changing. There were many voices questioning the way we should see sexual behaviour. 1972 was the year of the first Gay Pride march and only the year before Ruskin College had hosted the first Women’s Liberation Conference in Britain.

However the show also takes us forward to a later time when in brief scenes and through offstage voices their dreams are shown to have been replaced with a bleaker perspective.

One of the peripheral characters, the rugby player Brian who in 1972 is confused about sexuality, many years later commits a terrible act of sexual violence.

Anna meets Tessa accidentally outside a toilet at a Britney Spears concert in the year 2000. Initially surprised that the Tessa she thought so cool was at the concert at all, she becomes deeply disappointed when she hears Tessa has married a man. Her parting comment is bitterly contemptuous.

A number of characters feel betrayed that the icon of the Women’s Liberation Movement, Germaine Greer, should appear on Celebrity Big Brother.

This is a warm and entertaining production from a talented group of performers. It never has the space or perhaps the inclination to dig very deep into the politics or psychology of its characters or their times and there is an overly pessimistic view on how they later develop. However what this show does do is evoke aspects of a period with a fine amusing sensitivity.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna