Thanks to E. L. James, S&M is both ‘in’ and grossly misunderstood. Indeed, anyone that thinks Christian Grey’s dungeon is the start and end of all things kinky would be well advised to see
Like BDSM itself, Munch is worth giving a go but it is absolutely not for everyone.
The setup is threadbare: our hosts Will Cousins and writer Ben Richards describe their visit to a “munch” – a gathering for those interested in the kinkier end of the sexual spectrum. That’s as far as the plot gets; the show then takes the form of a series of set pieces based on their experience, equal parts sketch show and tongue in cheek lecture. The difference between this and other offbeat double acts is in the show’s language: Richards’ script is full of fast, obscure plays on words, puns and spoonerisms of which the name “Sitch ‘N’ Kink” is highly representative. If a joke can possibly be made then it is; the pair barrage us with a hugely admirable display of verbal dexterity. Occasional musical interludes are, if anything, even more intricate and the chemistry between the two performers, so important in a show like this, is genuine and delightful to watch. The lo-fi overhead projector (dragged from a 1970s geography lesson) and ramshackle ten-second costume changes could not be more different from the highly polished nature of the text but they nevertheless lend the piece an endearing charm – there always seems to be the danger that everything is going to fall apart.
That it never does almost seems like a shame. There are often points where the dialogue seems almost too slick for its own good – certainly, there is no way that we can absorb every wordplay offered here and, whilst the poetry is wonderfully performed, you can’t help but wish for everything to occasionally slow down, if only to appreciate it better. Furthermore, whilst most of the jokes are terribly clever, they aren’t always terribly funny. There are only so many puns on electric shock stimulation you can take before it all becomes a bit grating. That said, there are some excellent moments along the way: an interlude with a grotesque puppet that looks like a chained up Gerald Scarfe creation is hilarious, as is a brilliant reworking of Mary Poppins’ most famous song. Mostly though, it sticks to the same intricate, pun-laden language and, if you’ve seen the first ten minutes, then you’ve pretty much seen the whole show. The skill is undeniable, the energy never drops and anyone who delights in puns and wordplay will find much to enjoy. For others though, this is a curious take on a curious world. Like BDSM itself, Munch is worth giving a go but it is absolutely not for everyone.