Bristol based The Wardrobe Ensemble had caused a stir when they took 1972: The Future Of Sex to the Edinburgh Fringe so we were keen to see what the fuss was about. We were not disappointed as it is a funny yet considered production that will resonate with many in the audience. It doesn’t go for shocks, rather directors Tom Brennan and Jesse Jones have distilled real emotion and experiences into a recognisable series of events.
At the start Tom England grabs the microphone and announces it is 1972 and, thanks to the pill and female liberation, everyone is doing it. It is time to be groovy and free love is the agenda. As he makes these pronouncements Tom Crosley-Thorne is creating 70s disco music that wouldn’t be out of place in some of the classic films of the time. In stark contrast, there are 6 very nervous looking people sat in the background. They don’t look comfortable at the expectations of the time.
This is where the production works. The audience will relate to that nervous concern before the first time. There is empathy in a cast that are not all knowing, listening to rumours and old wives tales and wondering what it is all about. You don’t have to of been around in 1972 but younger members of the audience may not recognise a mobile-phone free world, with smoky pubs and no video recorders. Nor could they imagine Angel Delight as a treat dessert. But the beige 70s also have similarities with 2016. Relationships are never an easy linear journey, no matter in which era you’re a part of.
After the brash announcements at the start the unconnected stories of early relationship encounters unfold. Rich (Ben Vardy) is lead singer of a band and his girlfriend Christine (Kerry Lovell) is keen to take advantage of her parents going off to Norfolk for the weekend. Tessa (Emily Greenslade) catches the attention of Anna (Jesse Meadows). Penny (Helena Middleton) has noticed her heart rate increases when she is in a seminar with her sociology lecturer Martin (Tom England). Meanwhile the Mother of Anthony (James Newton) has noted has stuff is going missing.
1972 follows these stories in a creative way. The actors that are not involved are adding the narration and sound effects from the side of the performance area. The couples involved in each scene have a chemistry – the stories are believable. A nice touch is occasionally bringing the story up to date for some of the characters.
Adding a sense of humour and to the more ridiculous situations ensures that 1972: The Future of Sex is an entertaining adult romp. It is easy to see why it went down so well in Edinburgh.
Commissioned by Shoreditch Town Hall. Supported by Arts Council England, Bristol Ferment, the Kevin Spacey Foundation and Tobacco Factory Theatre's Artist Development Fund.
Review by Stephen Oliver for the North East Theatre Guide. Follow Stephen on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Panic_c_button
Recommended age 18+ (contains a brief moment of male nudity)