Review: The Wardrobe Ensemble’s The Future of Sex


Theatre thrives in the most unsuspecting places, especially in the larger cities. Leeds is full of hidden gems that for someone out of touch with the city’s Arts circle, are perhaps a little difficult to get involved with. This has resulted in several accessible Arts environments charmingly void of tourists and those there to be ‘entertained’ rather than ‘involved’. The Holbeck Underground Ballroom (HUB), home of Slung Low theatre company is one such venue. Without the huge  signs, you would be left to doubt you had found the right place – a converted warehouse with bathtubs as flower troughs, surrounded by urban wasteland. Slung Low have adopted and adapted this unusual space into an intriguing venue which aptly represents their company’s  ethos of creating “adventures for audiences outside conventional spaces”.

The Wardrobe Ensemble perform with an intense energy that ripples through their audience. They are comical, passionate and unafraid to break physical barriers onstage. Set in 1972, a pivotal point in history for sexual identity, in the midst of Bowie’s first public appearance as Ziggy Stardust, four teenagers  are propelled into a confusing world of sexual liberation. Fuelled by their hormones, the media and the excitement of the repressed generation before them, all four tackle their sexuality with all the awkward sweetness accosted to adolescence.

1972-Photo-500x300The set is simple, yet the show is visually brilliant due to the versatility of the actors. As a touring show, The Future of Sex works as a well oiled machine; they make the stage their own as if they’ve rehearsed there for weeks. The whole show creates its own rhythm as it zips between scenes of the past, present and future of its characters. The scenes harmoniously intertwine with live music, choreographed dancing and intrusive narrative (breaking of the fourth wall) making a truly immersive atmosphere.

The show is written by eleven company members, which is reflected in the many differing avenues of sexual politics that are explored; thus creating a show that is not only entertaining, but thought-provoking too. It faces some brutal truths about the state of sexuality in a social context both in the 70s and now. A browse through the company’s own mini magazine (which you can buy after the show) gives a glimpse into their creative process and encourages you to mull over what you have just experienced.

The show definitely caters to an adult audience, mainly because a lot of the humour and political references rely on being relatable or nostalgic, which a younger audience may not fully appreciate. Though there is nudity and the occasional use of strong language, it is all used tastefully and to accentuate intense passion or to explain a character’s feelings through physicality.

See for forthcoming events at HUB.

There are four tour dates left to catch:
20th May – The Lowry, Salford
25th May – South Hill Park, Bracknell
27th – 28th May – The Old Market, Brighton and Hove
14th – 18th June – The Drum, Theatre Royal Plymouth