Sex. It's a part of all our lives starting with conception, and Lorna Meehan has her own thoughts . . . and advice

A Virgin’s Guide to Hiring an Escort

The Blue Orange Theatre, Birmingham


This is a one woman, one hour performance. The Blue Orange theatre, a modern, compact space on the fringes of the Jewellery Quarter was perfect. Off beat, and intimate.

An established writer, actor and performer on the midlands arts circuit, pretty much everything that Lorna Meehan does is interesting. This is no exception.

Yes the title is an attention grabber, and the content is as the title suggests. If profanity and sex disturb you, the new Barbie film is available as an alternative.

When the show had finished, two words dominated the exit babble, “brave” and “courageous”. Superficially this is one woman’s monologue reflecting upon her experiences of hiring a male escort, her reasons for doings so, and the fall out.

It is also about human desire, and how a failure to acknowledge it can be all consumingly, devouringly, self -destructive. It is not didactic, nor is it a cautionary tale. Tales of female prostitution, of the Pretty Woman variety are commonplace, tales of female desire less so (Anne Bancroft’ s Mrs Robinson in The Graduate?) The conventional narrative is turned on its head, the woman wants sex, not the life story of her sexual partner.

At one point, Lorna stuffs a cake into her mouth and swigs from a bottle of wine invoking the spirit and hedonism of Dionysus and Bacchanalia whilst exploring fleshy matters. Dionysus was the Greek god (amongst many things) of wine-making, of festivity, insanity, ritual madness, religious ecstasy, and theatre.

Those who partook of his mysteries were believed to have become possessed and empowered by the god himself. But the Roman state treated popular festivals of Bacchus (Bacchanalia) as subversive, partly because their free mixing of classes and genders transgressed traditional social and moral constraints and celebration of the Bacchanalia was made a capital offence. The territory which Lorna explores has always been controversial.

Solo performances are always demanding, but Lorna pulls it off with a combination of compelling physical performance and a powerful script written in narrative verse. So strong are the visuals that I found my brain regularly searching for the “rewind” switch as couplets and internal rhymes danced by, demanding to be recalled. This piece will be available in both written, and audio book form in due course which will enable her audience to do justice to the smart, sassy and saucy script.

Having lured us in with a salacious title, she manages to get down and dirty with the content without being vulgar, being titillating without the tits! It is also witty and funny. This is primarily an exploration of intimacy, a subject which crosses the age and gender divide and dares to talk frankly about sex.

The musical interludes are perfectly chosen, Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game and George Michael’s Father Figure among them. Director Zak Marsh excels with a minimalist stage and imaginative props, each of which has to earn their place in Lorna’s hands.

Subversive, innovative and imaginative, Ruby Wax would love to get her hands on this script. See it when it is next performed, buy the book when it comes out. You will not be disappointed.

Gary Longden


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