My First Time is based on the real stories written by people around the world about their first sexual experience. The play is written by American author and producer Ken Davenport, using real stories shared on the website www.myfirsttime.com. The site has over 60,000 unique stories about people’s first sexual encounter (as well as some stories from virgins yet to experience sex, but who are clearly intrigued by it enough to be reading this website).
Upon arrival in the foyer, the audience are asked to complete a short, anonymous survey. The results are used at various times through the play to not only reveal how the night’s audience compares to the average person in other parts of the world, but to also remind the audience that what they are witnessing are real stories about real people. At times that reality is a little unnerving.
The play opens with quotes from some famous people and some quirky facts from the myfirsttime website. It sets the initial tone of the show. Multi-media is cleverly used to add to the stories being shared without being distracting from the actual story threads. Music takes the place of any sort of scene change and effectively provides a change in mood and tone.
Anyone expecting to see a story being played out before them may be disappointed. My First Time is a very different type of theatre. Somewhat surprisingly, the stories have been cleverly interwoven and connected together to provide an engaging piece of theatre. They range from funny to absurd to heart-breaking and everything in between, covering every possible type of (usual) sexual taboo. There are stories that will no doubt shock many audience members – and perhaps the reality of each situation makes some even more disturbing.
Brett Hyland, Melanie Rowe, Clare Hayes, Elise D’Amico and Paris Romanis present these stories, each delivering a range of characters and moving between accents and personas with ease. This is very much an ensemble piece and each performer gives a strong performance.
The experience of Director Helen Ellis comes through in My First Time. The format of the work means there is a risk the stories could feel just like a lot of mini-presentations. Ellis has found the heart, humour and tenderness in each story that allows the audience to connect with each and every one of them, resulting in a journey that builds to a crescendo before retuning to some lighter moments to end the show, making for an overall very “satisfying” night of theatre.
My First Time is an intriguing look at something most of us have experienced but very few are willing to talk about. It presents real stories without adding any moral or ethical judgement – although this will no doubt happen in the minds of the audience whether they intend to or not. My First Time will tantalise, shock, make you laugh, make you angry, possibly even make you cry … and perhaps even get you talking about that old taboo topic: sex.
My First Time is now playing at the 1812 Theatre www.1812theatre.com.au