Review: Clown Sex, VAULT Festival

Natasha Sutton Williams delivers an extraordinary physical performance in the darkly funny Clown Sex at VAULT Festival

“I wish I was the girl in the diagrams”

With a title like that, how could I resist… Clown Sex comes from the mind of writer/performer Natasha Sutton Williams and probably sits somewhere in the sphere of performance art with its eye-opening, sense-tingling, nipple-twisting levels of frankness about some of the more extreme ways in which sex, and the idea of sex, can dominate our lives. Sutton Williams uses a lascivious character called Gary Strange as the crux of her show, a creepy sort who lives in the sewers of London who gets his kicks from eavesdropping on his above-ground neighbours and through him, we hear three somewhat unique tales about sex.

As you might expect, it’s not for the faint-hearted but even with that in mind, it is quite impressive just how far Clown Sex goes. From timid classroom assistants with wavering attention spans for their pupils, to double-bass-playing university students (over-)indulging their burgeoning sexual addiction, to Gary’s own experiences the first time he dove head first into sex with a clown (I mean, it’s right there in the title), no blushes or orifices are spared in these accounts of what can happen when sex meets desperation, when the cravings don’t match up to reality and indeed, when you just want to have sex with a clown.

Sutton Williams offers up an audacious, visceral performance which is mesmeric in its intensity. Highly expressive, with elements of almost clowning in there in some of the more daring sequences, there’s a powerful physicality which allows for the clear delineation of character as we hop from one story to the next to the next. Allied to this is a highly tuned sense of comic timing. Completely unafraid of direct eye contact, we’re slapped in the face with equal parts comedy and tragedy, so whilst we’re still laughing at this wry observation, we’re soon punched in the gut by that searching revelation. Maybe it’s not the show to take your mum to but then again, maybe it is.  

Running time: 60 minutes (without interval)
Clown Sex is running at VAULT Festival until 29th January

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