So what if you could tell the next generation what sex and relationships are really like – not the ‘morally-framed’ discourse that’s expected by society. Would that make you a bad person? In Post-Sex Spagbol (which is written by Katie Bignell and directed by Caitlin Lee Smith), Krissy – as a school counsellor in a religious all-girls school – is in a unique position to offer some ‘real world’ perspective to the pupils. After a conversation with a friend, Krissy decides on a ‘what the hell’ approach and to tell the girls “the worst advice” so that they learn from their mistakes. Many children, after given sound advice, end up choosing to do the opposite as adults and learn the hard way. Why delay ‘life’s hard-earned’ lessons, when the worst mistakes can be made in your teens..?
Katie Bignell, Georgia Livingston and Signe Ebbesen take it turns to play the role of Krissy, as well as the other characters in the play. As you might expect, there are eventual repercussions to Krissy’s new ‘teaching methods’, but before the inevitable blowback, Krissy becomes very popular with her pupils. Now they have ‘love lives’ just as messy as Krissy’s…
So why is the play called Post-Sex Spagbol? Without going in the minutiae, it is a reference to a meal at home after the loss of virginity, and the surreal and complex emotions of things being ‘different’, yet aren’t. It’s one thing to ‘manage expectations’, but when after ‘the experience’ life changes but doesn’t (like the transition to adulthood), it is the emotional equivalent of Schrödinger’s cat.
Let’s acknowledge the ‘elephant in the room’: yes, this is female-centric play that deals with frank discussions about sex. But comparisons with Fleabag are redundant, as there have been many notable female-centric plays about sex, before and since, such as Anna Jordan’s Freak, Isley Lynn’s Skin A Cat and Fran Bushe’s Ad Libido to name but a few.
As for Krissy, knowing the likelihood of her actions backfiring, is she a ‘bad person’ or perhaps just imprudent? Is the Marquise de Merteuil in Dangerous Liaisons reprehensible for wanting the young Cécile de Volanges to be ‘corrupted’ and experience ‘womanhood’..? Women in fiction (and the real world) who are candid about sex, impulses and motivations seldom come away unscathed. Their honesty practically invites scrutiny from all quarters…
© Michael Davis 2022
Post-Sex Spagbol ran at The Space Arts Centre from 6th to 10th September.