Following a sell-out run at The Glory, Alexis Gregory’s play has transferred to the Soho Theatre, directed by Robert Chevara.

We went to check out Alexis Gregory’s Riot Act last year at Dalston’s Arcola Theatre and were thoroughly impressed. It was an interesting and thought-provoking prospect which was delivered in a compelling way. On paper, Sex / Crime has real potential to be as strong as, if not stronger than, Riot Act. It tells a story we haven’t seen on the stage before – A meets B to re-enact a particular sexual fantasy, with a variety of deviant options on the menu. This show could offer a really fascinating exploration of the links between humiliation, violence and sexual pleasure.

It feels like it misses the mark, however. Starring Alexis Gregory alongside Jonny Woo, this 60-minute two-hander should be an exhilirating ride – the premise alone ought to have us on the edge of our seats. We didn’t really buy into the chemistry between them, though – it seems a bit lacking. Due to this questionable believability, Sex / Crime never really feels as exciting or as dangerous as it should. It sets up a promising prospect at the start and there are some strong moments towards the end, but for most of the time inbetween we didn’t feel all that engaged.

It’s not without its merits. Alexis is a talented writer and this shines through on occasion. There are a number of witty and unexpected punchlines, while the list of rules and conventions for different types of gay relationships offers some well-observed, humorous takes. We’re also fans of plays which keep us guessing, and there are a few twists and turns towards the conclusion which we didn’t see coming. Lighting and sound is used effectively throughout too, to augment the on-stage action.

Ultimately we feel as though Sex / Crime doesn’t deliver on its potential. There are certainly enjoyable elements to the show – the key themes will certainly appeal to, and resonate with, a certain demographic of gay men. Yet it doesn’t come together as well as it should – this is a play with the potential to be exhilirating and, in spite of some provocative and intriguing moments, it never quite gets there. It’s far from a disaster but we just wanted it to be better.

GAY TIMES gives Sex / Crime – 3/5

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