Review: My First Time
You’ll laugh about the joys – and horrors – about other people’s first sexual experiences at this intimate production at the Sydney Opera House, writes Garrett Bithell.
We all remember our first sexual experience. Whether it was clumsy, sloppy, ugly or skull-right-through-the-headboard wonderful, the details of that encounter will be etched onto our brain for eternity: who it was with, where it happened, how it happened, why it happened.
After running for over two and a half years in New York, My First Time is getting the Australian treatment – for the first time – at Sydney Opera House’s Playhouse theatre. The show’s concept dates back to 1988 – a time when blogging was almost a futuristic notion – and the launch of www.myfirsttime.com, which allowed people all over the world to share their own story about their first sexual experience. To date, almost 54,000 stories have been uploaded.
My First Time, the show, features four actors performing a selection of these stories, predominantly as a collage of monologues. Directed by Jo Turner, the Australian production features Sharon Millerchip, Josef Ber, Annie Maynard and Kristian Schmid. Using a variety of accents and performance styles, on the whole the cast is funny and watchable as they hop up from their stools in turn to give us their best coy school girl, trailer park maven lamenting her old fondness for coke douches, nostalgic middle-age lothario, et al.
Most of the stories on offer are hilarious and perverse, but some are also heartbreaking – and now and then cynical caricature and desperate plays for laughs win over genuine and affecting dramatisation. All the actors display ease, comic timing and versatility. Millerchip is funny, but her charactisations are slightly crude, especially compared to the intelligent detail of Maynard’s performances. Ber is rough but enjoyable, and Schmid provides the necessary pathos in the more tragic accounts.
Nothing in My First Time is going to change your life, but there is something enjoyably unifying about laughing in a theatre with a bunch of strangers about the horror, humour and joy of first sexual experiences. Everyone goes through terrible and embarrassing experiences, and there is certainly comfort in that. We are all in this crazy thing called life together, after all.
[Image] Annie Maynard, Kristian Schmid, Sharon Millerchip and Josef Ber in My First Time. Photo: Daniel Boud
My First Time, until January 19, Playhouse, Sydney Opera House. Book: www.sydneyoperahouse.com