The Chemsex Monologues
Words by Fatema Sitabkhan
Overall rating: ★★★★★
For most humans, sex is an enjoyable and pleasurable activity. Sometimes (however), people turn to “enhancements” in the form of drugs, which either give you an inexplicable high of multitudes…or lead you to their lowest of lows and bring with it impending doom.
This is what The Chemsex Monologues is all about. It’s a show that will challenge and tug at your heartstrings! Sitting in the front row of an intimate space, the lights go down and when they come back up, there’s Rich Watkins sitting on a chair, nothing else around him. He starts demonstrating his strong orating skills to instantly captivate the audience by making us all jump into the deep end of a story.
The Chemsex Monologues made their international debut by starting off at The Adelaide Fringe last night and if anything is to go by their opening night, the rest of their time here is going to be just as strong and powerful.
Four characters make up this play – a narrator (Richard Watkins), a good-looking “Nameless” boy (Damien Killeen), a fag hag (Remy Moynes) and a sexual health worker (Richard Unwin). The characters are all very British – with their smouldering accents, their chiselled looks, and their very real experiences narrated out eloquently in front of the audience.
Initially, I was a bit nervous at how I’d be able to handle the topics of “chemsex” – heck, I didn’t even fully understand what the term implied! But, after sitting through a very eye-opening 70 minute show, I realized that this is a topic that has attracted ignorance and stigma for far too long and that it is time for a change. It is time for people to speak up and talk about this, because we’ve all either known someone or have, ourselves, been like the character “Nameless”.
Each character is given an average of 10-15 minutes, where the monologue starts off with a sprinkle of humour, followed by woes of desperation…to help, to be there, to comfort. There is a chaos of emotions that was personally experienced – frustration, helplessness, compassion, love.
There is also that satisfying sense of resolution that is felt within the last 15 minutes of the show, when the stories of all four characters seem to collide beautifully. As my friend Tahnee mentioned, “The play was captivating in the way that it was presented to us… it has been designed to make us feel like we (as the audience) were listening to a long lost friend who just wanted to have a candid conversation with us, rather than being told a one-sided story.”
For an opening night act, the characters had their rehearsal game playing strong throughout the show. Every monologue was delivered with a high level of mastery, the one technical glitch was handled with poise, every audience member was left in awe, and every character became this lovable munchkin that you’d just want to hold in response to the hardship they experienced, in addition to giving them hope of a shred of silver lining through some of the toughest things they’ve seen and heard. The Chemsex Monologues delivers a really powerful message: knowing what the other characters don’t know as you watch their stories unfold and then it all comes together in the end. There’s a sense of resolution that shines through, making this play a must-watch.
Coming from sold-out shows in Sydney and London, The Chemsex Monologues have certainly made their powerful debut at the Adelaide Fringe. Seeing how this festive period is all about experiencing something new, fresh, and exciting, these guys and gal sure know how to give us quality entertainment that is funny, challenging, and relatable. The stories of each of these characters are ones that will stick with you for days afterwards.
Book your tickets to the show here and find all the relevant details for the show below:
The Chemsex Monologues
Address: The German Club (Clubroom) – 223 Flinders Street, Adelaide SA 5000
Social media: Official Website // Facebook // Twitter
Dates: March 8 – 19
Presented by: Dragonflies Theatre