Review: Sex Education

A funny and warm one man show by Harry Clayton-Wright,
at Bootleg Social, Blackpool, 5 Oct

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After receiving huge praise from Brighton Fringe 2017, Harry Clayton-Wright returned to his home town of Blackpool for the last performance of the year of his show Sex Education. On the evening Bootleg Social was transformed, creating an intimate performance venue and pulling in an impressive audience.

Much like walking into a classroom and discovering a banana and a condom sitting on the front desk, the atmosphere within the venue was awash with nervous anticipation. Opening with a video sequence of Clayton-Wright in some rather exposing positions, the audience became immediately aware that unlike those school board-approved sex education classes this performance would not be holding back any of the shocking details.

Through storytelling, performance and participation Harry celebrates all the awkward emotions one might feel in their early sexual adventures and goes one step further, providing the opportunity to rifle through his porn collection, browsing history and text messages – much to the delight of the audience.

Alongside his exposé Harry reflects upon his interactions and digs deeper under the surface. Although fits of laughter filled the room for most of this performance, cutting through the atmosphere are darker moments that left the audience in stunned silence. Remember the time your heart was first bruised and your stomach sank to your ankles? It is these kinds of emotions that Harry has perfectly intertwined in his delivery.

This show provides more than the opportunity to have a good laugh at one man’s attempts to navigate the sexual terrain. What also emerges through pre-recorded interviews with his mother (who has never been invited to any of Harry’s performances) is the story of a young man whose parents had opposing approaches to their child’s sexual education. Harry’s father kindly provided a job lot of unusual and outlandish gay pornography whilst Harry’s mother steered away from the conversations entirely.

Throughout the duration of the performance Harry’s mother gives a brave testimony of her own early sexual experiences and her difficulty approaching the subject with her son. What is most apparent though is the dedication to her family and the commitments she has fulfilled wonderfully. What we hear from the recordings is a strong woman who may have missed the target when it comes to teaching her children about sex but exceeded her role as a mother. Harry’s reflections prove he would not be the confident, approachable man he is now without her influence.

He does not provide a perfect show. Instead he provides one that truly reflects human emotion. It’s raw, cutting, unpolished and warm. He’s is an endearing performer, fabulous lip-syncer and makes a cracking cucumber sandwich.

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