Sex and God
The Byre Theatre, Oct 26
* * *
In “Sex and God” Linda McLean provides the audience with a warts-and-all insight into the lives of four twentieth century women. These women differ greatly in their circumstances, varying in age and socio-economic status. Despite the weighty name of this production, McLean does not attempt to instil in her audience any lessons of morality or faith; rather she simply depicts the influence that sexual and holy relationships have on the four characters.
McLean successfully tailors the monologues of two of the women so that they are immediately recognisable as having personality types which are rather familiar to a modern audience – the angst stricken, off-the-rails student and the guilt ridden victim of domestic abuse. The other two characters had less explicit identities– one of whom appeared to suffer from a mental illness, whilst the second served as a humiliated servant. This was perhaps done to intentionally isolate the audience in order to depict a contrast in mindsets. The play proceeded to run through various pivotal moments in the lives of the women – with recurring themes of poverty of mind and matter – and by the closing scene each figure had overcome an element of naivety, demonstrating how one never ceases to acquire wisdom.
However, whilst McLean may have intended to elevate everyday experience in an extraordinary manner (as stated on the flyer for the show) there was not much shocking content in its narrative.
There were still aspects of this production that were executed in a fine manner. The musicality and imagery present in the language, with the occasional snatches of song, helped to enhance and link the stories of the four women. Furthermore, the stage space was used well to create a dynamic sense of the varying environments that McLean was intending to portray. Yet, one was left slightly baffled by the cascade of chairs which spilt across the stage, appearing to defy gravity. Perhaps intended to represent the pinnacle of domesticity through the medium of modern art, their presence was rather jarring when juxtaposed with the ordinary tales discussed on stage.
Overall this play, with its continual probing at topics such as feminism and motherhood, ended contrary to expectations, leaving the audience with a sense of despair for the feeble female characters. McLean principally highlighted the lack of security provided by either sex or God. But despite the fact that this realisation shattered the foundations of the four protagonists’ lives, for the majority of us this bitter truth will have been digested many years ago – deeming the play’s message somewhat redundant.