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Sex Cells at Riverside Studios

Published by: Edmée Sierts on 5th Oct 2013 | View all blogs by Edmée Sierts

Tiffany, Sylvie, Lilly and Mr Causeway
I think the boxes were the first thing I noticed. The office of Aphrodite is full of them. It is clear from the names on the boxes and the giant sign above the stage that this is a place where sex toys are sold. Combine this with what you find out about the characters in the first five minutes of the play, and if it wasn't clear already that the name of Anna Longaretti's debut, Sex Cells, has more than one meaning, it certainly is clear now.

The play centres around four women working in the company's call centre. The oldest, Lilly, is stuck in a marriage with little to no love in it and finds herself with a son she doesn't really know. Sylvie, a woman in her late thirties, has nothing on the brain but babies, babies and babies, and frequently finds herself at the receiving end of Lilly's jokes as she is very sensitive about anything to do with, you guessed it, babies. Janice, on the other hand, has more children than she knows what to do with, and is grateful for every instance her husband reminds her that she is more than just a mother. Tiffany, the youngest and in her late twenties, has no interest whatsoever in having children but would like to be in a long-term relationship. Next door to this cacophony of female noises is Mr. Causeway, the manager. It becomes clear early on that he carries a bit of a torch for Lilly, who is hilariously oblivious to the whole thing.

With this information as a basis, the play takes two of the characters, Lilly and Sylvie, on a journey to figure out what it means to them to be a mother. This journey constantly shifts between the comedic and the tragic, and by the end of it you'll likely end up with strong feelings about what being a mother, or father for that matter, means to you. I would say that is the major strength of this play. Not the asking of new, hitherto unknown questions, but a firm asking of important questions we already know, but that are worthwhile being asked again.

Of course, the solid acting doesn't hurt either. Jean Perkins plays a wonderful Lilly, and I really felt for her as she tried to understand her estranged son. Alison Pargeter's Sylvie forms a wonderful contrast and it doesn't surprise anyone why she and Lilly often don't see eye to eye. Kate Russell-Smith as Janice has my sympathies as being the character who has difficulty maintaining a sense of self in the noise that is having children, and I would have loved to see more of her. The same goes for Tiffany, who is played in marvellously vapid fashion by Serena Giacomini. Tom Butcher's Causeway is adorable, and the way he's played it's no wonder Lilly wants to provide him with a constant stream of baked goods and other nourishment.

Sex Cells is definitely a production worth seeing, and I hope we'll get to see more of Longaretti's work some time in the future.

The show runs at Riverside Studios until October 27th. For more information on Sex Cells, please visit the website: 


1 Comment

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 4 years ago
    Thanks, Edmee. This sounds like an entertaining and well acted piece.
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