Poppy Seed Festival Presents F.

Making text about sex

By Myron My

It’s probably rarer now for parents to need to sit down and speak to their children about the birds and the bees. Books such as “Where Did I Come From?” now seem obsolete, and by the time teenagers are learning anything to do with sex education in school, they already seem to know it all. Presented by Riot Stage as part of the Poppy Seed Festival, F. attempts to explore how a group of teenagers come to terms with sex and sexuality as most people of the last decade have – through technology.

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Unfortunately the execution is not always successful, as the production’s central concern with how technology is used with sex is at times completely ignored, or does not explore issues raised to any great depths. Thus, one of the main story lines – where two friends enter into a sexual relationship – is surprisingly developed without featuring the use of any social media or technology whatsoever, apart from one scene where the male character refers to the three voicemails he left her. In contrast, a female character’s revelation that an ex-partner has put a naked photo of her on the internet is initially met with mediocre disgust by her friends but is then immediately dropped and never mentioned again – nor do we see any impact this event has upon the character.

Despite being developed from online survey content and real-life narratives, the stories explored in this production never seem to come from a place of authenticity or honesty, and feel like they have been chosen or created in an ambitious attempt to cover every possible topic regarding teenagers and sex: masturbation, vaginas, homosexuality, suicide, porn, masculinity, and so on, and so on. Within this plethora of material, I felt the characters portrayed lacked motivation, and there appeared to be a need for more guidance in the young cast’s valiant attempts to show these teens as real people.

Katrina Cornwell‘s direction creates some strong visuals, especially during the musical interludes where all the characters appear on stage at various times before disappearing backstage again. The interesting solipsistic idea that all these characters’ emotions and thoughts belong to one person is best explored here and in the final moments of the show, where sentences begin to flow into one another as two microphones are shared between the cast of twelve.

With a tighter narrative structure and further thoughtful examinations of its characters’ desires and drives, F. could certainly be a piece of theatre with something important to say. But at this stage, investigating the role of the internet when it comes to learning about sex and life is not a new concept, and sadly, F. – in this current production – fails to add anything new to the mix.

Venue: Trades Hall, 54 Victoria St, Carlton
Season: until 11 December | Wed – Sat 8pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 4pm
Tickets: $35 Full | $25 Concession
Bookings: Poppy Seed Festival

 Image by Sarah Walker
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