ALL THE SEX I’VE EVER HAD: The International Edition

by Lynn on June 21, 2014

in The Passionate Playgoer

All the Sex I’ve Ever Had: The International Edition.

At the Isabel Bader Theatre, Toronto, Ont.

Conceived and directed by Darren O’Donnell
Co-directed by Konstantin Bock
Written by the participants.
Sound/MC by Christian ‘Smörre’ Ziegler (Isola Music)
Hattie Louise
Mme Goh

An evening of sexual reminiscences by the participants, all of whom are over sixty, none of whom is an actor. It all gets a bit tired after a while with a few poignant moments.

Confession. Yes I know that this has closed and that the Luminato Festival is over, but I am still posting a ‘review’ of this piece of non-theatre.

Background. The participants, all of whom are over 60 years old, indicate their interest in being in the show. They are interviewed about their sex lives, their back ground etc. Six to ten participants are chosen. Their stories are shaped and worked on by Mammalian Diving Reflex. For the International Edition one participant was chosen from each country where the show performed. One person from Toronto who worked on an earlier version was chosen.

The Story. Each participant presents his/her various sexual experiences from the time they first can remember a sexual experience, over time to the present. The participants are a cross section of nationalities (of course, considering this is the International Edition), sexual orientations– two are gay, the rest are heterosexual—some of the women were pregnant in their teens, several were married, had children, divorced and all revelled in the tingle of their sexual activity.

The Production. All the participants sit at a long table with a microphone and a glass of water at each place. Some have wine. There is a little table off to the left, that is well stocked with wine bottles. The Master of Ceremonies, Christian ‘Smörre’ Ziegler, fills the wine glasses of the participants. He also reads off the years from the time the first participant is born.

Each participant carries a script listing his/her segment by their name. Each introduces himself/herself. Their full first name and what we can call them, I guess should we get more friendly. So Elizabeth from British Columbia says we can call her Bette. I can’t remember the gentleman’s name from Philadelphia, but he says we can call him Hattie Louise. If a participant recalls an incident in a certain year, he/she reads it plus how old they might have been at the time. Not all the participants read a selection for each year, although Hattie Louise seems to have been quite sexually active. There are several years when he reads simply, “cruising”.

There are abusive husbands, broken marriages, frequent pregnancies, unfaithful lovers, sadness, euphoria when they are in the full flower of their sexual activity and loving it; revelation; maturity and fearlessness. We get the sense that fearlessness comes with age.

When the Master of Ceremonies announces a new decade in the proceedings, there is celebratory music, champagne (I think) poured and all the participants rise and dance to disco music. The three folks from Mammalian Diving Reflex—Darren O’Donnell, Eva Verity and Jenna Winter—rush to the stage and join in. Questions are asked of the audience—“did a lover ever steal from you?” “Have you ever had sex in public?” This being the age of Facebook and Twitter, when every part of one’s life is blurted and blogged, complete with pictures, and nothing is private, the audience gets right into it. After a few minutes the three Mammalians scurry back to their seats until the next decade, when they will bound on stage and dance again.

When it’s over the participants walk up the aisle, wine in hand, to the lobby, where the audience can meet them. On various tables in the lobby there are displays of photos of the various participants and their families and friends; plus candles; a tube of lubricant and other paraphernalia important to a well-oiled sexual encounter.

Comment. Ok, I give up. What was that? All the Sex I Ever Had is listed as ‘theatre’ in the Luminato brochure, but this is hardly theatre. Perhaps one could call it “generally badly spoken word.” While I can appreciate the obvious input of Mammalian Diving Reflex to shape and present each vignette as well as possible, with a punchy ending, it’s obvious that much more time was needed to make a dull reader into something better. Too often participants had no idea where they were in the script from which they were all reading and had to be prompted by the others. Aside from some poignant moments told with quiet dignity, this evening was a narcissist’s delight. In the case of Hattie Louise it afforded him a larger venue in which to cruise. We got the barest of personal information from each participant in their readings. We learned more from their short bios in the program. Which I guess is par for the course for a one-night-stand.

Produced by Mammalian Diving Reflex, Eva Verity and Jenna Winter. Developed in collaboration with Oldenburg Stage Theatre and PAZZ Festival.

Performed in English, German, Czech and Mandarin with English Surtitles.

Opened: June 12, 2014
Closed: June 15, 2014
Cast: 7; 3 men, 4 women.
Running Time: 2 hours approx.

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1 ruby trostin June 22, 2014 at 8:35 am

I totally agree. I have had much more fun and entertainment speaking with teens
and other women. It was a waste of time. At least pretend to be somewhat professional. Try to be interesting.