By Marine Saint, Deputy Editor and Features Columnist
1972: The Future of Sex was DramSoc’s highly-anticipated final full-length show of the year, performed in the much underrated Tobacco Factory. Originally devised by the Bristol-based Wardrobe Ensemble and performed at the Fringe, Maui Connock and Calypso Bressan directed their own take on the vibrant production encapsulating the explosive freedom of contraception and the excitement of a generation.
Following seven teenagers on the verge of self-discovery in the 1970s, we experienced their loves, losses, and sexual liberation. The principal cast of 1972 were accompanied by the palpably energetic narrators threading together the individual narratives and doubling in as memorable characters of their own.
The highly charismatic and enthusiastic ensemble seamlessly transported us from the crowded dance floors of 1970s London to teenage band gigs and the awkward encounters of first loves. There were equally tender and intimate moments of vulnerability within the performance, especially the beautifully rendered, bittersweet burgeoning romance of Anna (Leila Entwistle) and Tessa (Sophia Woolfenden). For any recent fans of ‘Daisy Jones and the Six’, the audience could very much appreciate the perfectly chosen costuming of the show, along with its integral soundtrack and at times intense live music renditions.
Connock and Bressan created a brilliantly spirited piece, from seventies classics fuelling high-tempo dance sequences to direct and politicised declarations of the reality of free love and bodily autonomy in this era. The many timely messages so evocatively displayed by the cast, from LGBTQ rights to second-wave feminist thinking, added a level of nuanced understanding of the ongoing issues we face and felt well-balanced within the hectic time and relationship jumps in the narrative steered by the narrators.
A definite standout moment was the heart-wrenching monologue delivered by Anton, played tenderly and passionately by Oshi Hopson. 1972: The Future of Sex did not shy away from Anton’s struggles with finding their identity and was able to begin to address the politics of sexuality and self-discovery.
For more comedic relief while also covering other types of’ first’ relationships was the controversial student-teacher romance hilariously performed by Elsa Cleaver and Wilfred Kemsley, or the slightly more light-hearted plot line following couple Christine (Martha Tipper) and Rich (Stan Abbott-Stacey), where we could not help but pity the unrequited love of Christine’s best friend (played by Jamie Egan).
Witnessing the cast’s comfortability in a very high-paced and visceral show was a testimony to the production team’s pride in their very collaborative creation, a moving and striking show were the dedication of each and every cast or creative was palpable. While the one-act structure of the play overall made some storylines feel rather under-developed compared to others, the fluid transitions between each vignette meant that the poignant messages of each couple and indeed of 1970s British youth culture and sexual awakenings could be featured and given a spotlight.
Featured Image: Courtesy of Maui Connock
Which student theatre performances have stood out for you this year?