Review: Sex Idiot by Bryony Kimmings

Sex Idiot was first created four years ago and, before the performance, Bryony was at pains to remind me that it is part of her earlier canon of work which has matured significantly since then. But I am in haste to make up for lost time and Bryony’s work has been on my ‘must-see-but-haven’t-managed-to-yet’ list for too long, so it seemed fitting that I started with the earlier stuff and can work my way forward from here.

Bryony Kimmings makes work about intensely personal issues, and Sex Idiot is based around a diagnosis of an STI that sent her on a mission, in typical Bryony fashion, not to take the easy option. She rejected the health service offer to anonymously contact her previous sexual partners to alert them to the need to get themselves tested, and made that difficult journey herself. Not only did she warn her ex-lovers, she also turned the entire episode into a positive experience by announcing her intention to make a piece of art about and for each of them that took the trouble to reply, and I was privileged to watch the result at the Purcell Room in the Southbank Centre.

Sex Idiot is bravely explicit and hilariously awkward. Bryony Kimmings takes us with her on her entire journey from ungainly internal medical examination, through panicked analysis of her sexual self-perception, embarassing critique of her relationship potential (“NEVER contact me again”, writes one ex-partner), musings on her own vagina and confessions of extreme revenge-urges, to a poignant and touching conclusion which does not shirk from laying bare her own vulnerability. Performed with impeccable comic timing and engaging charisma, she pokes fun at everything and everyone, herself and her art-form included, while maintaining a sincerity and candour that elevates the piece from mere comedy routine to true performance art.

Sex Idiot is everything you want from a piece of theatre, and totally unique. Beautifully crafted and elegantly paced, it’s a captivating piece of theatrical storytelling which both engages and gently reflects its audience, speaking aloud those thoughts we have all kept secret and daring us to admit, if only to ourselves, our complicity in its universal humanity. I can’t wait to see where Bryony Kimmings goes next …

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