As I write this review I find myself enveloped by a certain degree of caution. After all, this will be easily available online and as our host for the evening points out: that means his Mum could find it…
A show that aims to shock but holds a clear and powerful message
Sex Education is a semi-autobiographical exploration of our attitudes towards sex and how it is taught in schools, particularly with reference to queer relationships and sexual activities. Crude, explicit and downright shocking; we are asked about our own experiences of sex education and the impact it has on us in later life.
Harry Clayton-Wright is as frank as he is enigmatic, creating a show that aims to shock but holds a clear and powerful message: a queer-inclusive sex education may well be a form of suicide prevention. After all, how can the queer youth of today be expected to feel comfortable in their own skin if the syllabus supposedly representing our society actively excludes them? In light of ongoing debates in Birmingham surrounding this very matter, the show is a timely and poignant reminder of the long way we have to go in pursuit of equality.
The show is structured between a variety of vintage pornographic videos, which Harry’s father bought him when he came out as a teenager. They are as outrageous to a modern audience as they are hilarious; incorporating nuanced storylines, pet rabbits and battery-powered torches. If this is indicative of past sex education I can appreciate why he is calling for a reform.
That said, the show is not without its sensitivity. Amidst a comical series of facts pertaining to Harry’s sexual history he recalls a time he was sexually assaulted. Whilst the take home message might not be in suggesting a more comprehensive sex education will eradicate sexual assault, it does work to highlight the contradiction in censorship surrounding non-normative sexual activity. If queer sex is a taboo in the context of a classroom discussion, how can we find the language to discuss it in times of trauma?
Humorous in its delivery and bittersweet in its essence, Sex Education is both a moving indictment against our national curriculum and a fierce celebration of difference.