REVIEW: Sex Magick
Presented by Griffin Theatre Company
Reviewed by Jemima Sirtes
“Sexuality is Limitless. Gender is Limitless too”
If there’s one thing that Nicholas Brown’s Sex Magick taught me, it’s that theatre is limitless.
On this 2.5 hour journey we follow a variety of characters, focusing on Ard (Raj Labade). Ard is looking for the thing that will complete him, make him whole, make him normal. Unfortunately, he hasn’t yet realised that the normal he is searching for doesn’t exist. And if it once did, it has since disappeared and the life he used to live was destroyed along with his career. He finds comfort in the violet aura of his new special friend, Liraz. Together, they find themselves in India for a life-changing lesson in culture, tradition, fluidity, and enlightenment. Oh, and tantra.
This beautiful mixture of South Asian and queer culture, with a classic eastern suburbs flair, would not be possible without the staging, set and lighting. Flashes of colour happened so suddenly that actors could change outfits, emotions, or characters within the blink of an eye. Warm oranges for India, intense whites for locker rooms, and a mysterious purple for the scenes’ more erotic moments. Smoke flowed down from the ceiling hiding more than just characters from the most intimate moments. The combination of an Indian amphitheatre, Bondi spa, rugby locker room, and fanciful jungle are all skillfully combined to fit the space of this, well, intimate venue.
I was aware of the disclaimers at the beginning of the show, the words naked and genitalia basically cavorted off the page. Intimacy coordinator Chloë Dallimore clearly had her work cut out for her. While speaking to two of the wonderful actors in the show, Blazey Best and Mansoor Noor, they both commended her on her excellent work. Full frontal nudity has always been a risky choice for main-stage theatre, however, like most elements of this show, the risk matched the reward.
Confronting yet comfortable seems to be the best way to describe it. It didn’t feel like I was an intruder, or that I was watching something scandalous. From the moment we entered the theatre, it felt like there was an instant welcome to a world of freedom and wonder.
I can only describe Act 2 in four words - Internalised Homophobia Drug Trip. And I enjoyed every second of it. Writer Nicholas Brown and director Declan Greene’s use of absurdist theatre took us on the trip with the actors, existing in a world of colour and confusion beyond reality.
This show could have had one key theme and it still would have made for a creative and beautiful show. It could have been a story about Ard and the mysteries of his father, embedded in dance. It could have been a show about blurring the lines of sexuality. It could have been a show about toxic masculinity and the erotic nature of sports. But it was all of this and more. It was limitless.
I only had one question as I was leaving the theatre; Is Australia ready for Sex Magick? Maybe, maybe not. I don’t have the answer to this question. However, this show has two weeks until closing and I urge you to go down to the Griﬃn Theatre, and take in a performance of Sex Magick. See how limitless theatre can be.
Sex Magick is playing at the SBW Stables Theatre, Kings Cross until 25 March 2023. Presented by Griffin Theatre Company in association with Sydney WorldPride.
Images by Brett Boardman