Sex and the Suburbs

Written by Claire Sweeney and Mandy Muden
Directed by Ken Alexander
The Royal Court, Liverpool
9th May to 7th June 2014

Reviewed by Jennifer Keegan

With the concept of a late night phone-in radio show about sex, dating and finding Mr Right, where callers can ask for advice from a renowned agony aunt, Sex and the Suburbs promised some cheeky laughs and salacious fun. Packed with empowering anthems such as I’m Every Woman and I Will Survive, I expected a man-hating gossip session with female empowerment and girl power being the focus as with Sex and the City. However, Sex and the Suburbs – whilst still hitting the girl power notes – had a bittersweet quality. From the woman who makes her husband’s cross dressing alter ego her friend, to the woman who longs for a baby, underneath all the silliness and outrageousness, there is a sweeter story and, luckily for the show, this is what saved it from being little more than a large Ann Summers party.

Originally, Mandy Muden was due to play the host of late night radio phone in Penny Crowe, but days before the first show she was replaced by Lindzi Germaine. Luckily, Germaine does not disappoint in her performance as she took to the stage with aplomb. She nailed it as the larger than life character and easily got the biggest laughs of the night as down to earth gobby scouser Penny. Claire Sweeney played ex-pop star turned radio starlet Willow Wallace. Sweeney really hit home with some of the emotional problems she portrayed, perhaps mirrored in her own personal life which has been fuel for gossip columns for over a decade. However, she really shone for me when she sang, still a wonderful voice for belting out hen party anthems and she’s never looked better whilst doing so! Carl Patrick really stood out from his multiple roles as camp Psychologist and radio host Rory Reynolds, with the audience also loving his Freddie Mercury inspired cross dressing character – Audrey.

Unfortunately, the show was not faultless, at times the writing let the concept down but luckily the cast had enough about them to drag the script along. With an unnecessary section of poorly executed audience involvement and a cringe worthy advertisement for Ann Summers threatening to ruin the whole show at one point. Luckily, in a hometown which wills on its own to succeed, the play touched lucky in Liverpool but perhaps it needs a bit of polishing if it wishes to travel.

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