Review – Sex and God

Oct 16 2012 | By More

* * * *

Lesley Hart in Magnetic North's Sex and God. Photo Colin Hattersley

Lesley Hart in Magnetic North’s Sex and God.
Photo Colin Hattersley

Traverse and tour
Review by Thom Dibdin

Complex and enthralling, Linda McLean’s new play for Magnetic North reveals the lives of four 20th century women as interweaving – yet never quite interlocking – narratives.

Played out on a cracked and shattered floor, tiled in black and white with an arc of silver-painted chapel chairs falling over and across it, this feels as if these women are flying through time – a explosion of history which has become trapped in some kind of singularity of time.

That singularity has its origin in a clear and transparent sexual context. Each of the four is, in some way, both trapped and enlightened by sex and its consequences. Sex that is as likely to be mutual or gratifying as it is to be endured, forced or bartered.

So that the narratives of these women’s lives is, quite explicitly but without ever being explicit, told through their experiences of sex.

Director Nicholas Bone has brought out four quite exceptional performances to create these narratives. As a play, it certainly needs them for clarity’s sake, as the stories are revealed in parallel, swapping between characters and stories at the points of commonality or when the characters happening to be saying the same words (although they might mean quite differing things by them).

Mental anguish
Lesley Hart in Magnetic North's Sex and God, with Ashley Smith and Louise Ludgate Photo Colin Hattersley

Lesley Hart in Magnetic North’s Sex and God, with Ashley Smith and Louise Ludgate Photo Colin Hattersley

The joy is in depth of the characters. Ashley Smith is calm and in control as Jane, a servant living in the early part of the century. In her early teens she can’t escape the attentions of a young stable lad – not that she wants to – but when the child is taken away, the mental anguish colours her life and later marriage.

Lesley Hart’s overly fecund Lizzie, living through the depression, accentuates that turbulent relationship between pleasure and procreation. When her babies become too numerous for her and her husband to care for, society’s attitudes condemn her and trap her even more.

Later still in the century, Louise Ludgate’s Sally is also trapped. Her husband might be addicted to his own gratification, but has no time for love or loving. Yet when Sally begins, as both Jane and Lizzie have, to guide the direction of her own life, it appears that she can have control.

The question is what that control can lead to, if there is no true independence. And while Natalie Wallace’s modern student, Fiona, has a certain freedom, the ties of finance and the necessities of food come between her and her education. She might live in modern, emancipated times, but that can count for nothing unless you have the means – on what ever level – to make choices.

The whole is a poetic and engrossing hour with four brilliantly articulated performances. Not to mention a set, designed by Claire Halleran, which just adds another layer or questioning to it all. A piece to be experienced and in which to immerse yourself.

Traverse Run ended
Running time: 1 hour
Magnetic North Website:

Tour dates:

Thu 27 and Fri 28 Sept, 7pm Platform Easterhouse (0141 276 9696)

Mon 1 Oct, 7.30pm Swallow Theatre Whithorn (01988 850368)

Thu 4 Oct, 8pm CatStrand New Galloway (01644 420374)

Fri 5 Oct, 7.30pm Brunton Theatre Musselburgh (0131 665 2240)

Sat 6 Oct, 8pm Birnam Arts Dunkeld (01350 727674)

Mon 8 Oct, 8pm Lyth Arts Centre Caithness (01955 641434)

Wed 10 Oct, 7.30pm Eastwood Park Theatre Giffnock (0141 557 4970)

Thu 11 – Sat 13 Oct, 7.30pm Traverse Theatre Edinburgh (0131 228 1404)

Tue 16 Oct, 7.30pm Perth Theatre (01738 621031)

Wed 17 Oct, 7.30pm Paisley Arts Centre (0141 887 1010)

Thu 18 Oct, 7.30pm FTH Falkirk (01324 506850)

Fri 19 and Sat 20 Oct, 8pm Tron Theatre Glasgow (0141 552 4267)

Tue 23 Oct, 7.30pm Carnegie Hall Dunfermline (01383 602302)

Thu 25 Oct, 7.30pm Eastgate Arts Centre Peebles (01721 725777)

Fri 26 Oct, 7.30pm Byre Theatre St Andrews (01334 475000)


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.