Generation sex - The Wardrobe Company on stage. Photograph: Jack Offord
Generation sex – The Wardrobe Company on stage. Photograph: Jack Offord

Sex began in 1963, said Philip Larkin. But in a play at Shoreditch Town Hall it’s the seventies providing fertile ground for sexual awakening.

In 1972: The Future of Sex by The Wardrobe Ensemble three couples embark on having sex for the first time during one evening.

This is the year when Ziggy Stardust first appeared on Top of the Pops, when Lady Chatterley’s Lover was finally published unabridged, and when the notorious pornographic film Deepthroat was released.

“Our research led us to that moment because it seemed quite significant time in British public consciousness in terms of the changing of attitudes about gender and sexuality,” says the play’s director Tom Brennan.

“We were looking to make a show about sex and sexual anxiety and our discussions led us to that moment in time between the AIDS epidemic and the sexual revolution.”

In this era of glam rock and space-hoppers, Christine is steeling herself for the loss of her virginity with the nerdy lead singer of a local band, whilst other storylines involve a student who is inspired by her university professor in more ways than one, and Brian in his bedroom, exploring his sexual identity by himself.

“The storylines are kind of woven together – we’ve structured it so we have a lot of narration in the show which allows us to jump between the storylines and kind of explore them simultaneously in some cases,” Brennan explains.

The show features original music from Bristol-based songwriter Tom Crosley-Thorne, a school friend of Brennan.

“I was in a band with him and when I was first talking to him about doing this show, the next day he sent me these amazing tracks, which are perfect homages to Bowie and The Who and Chaka Khan.”

After a preview last year at Shoreditch Town Hall, Brennan and fellow members of The Wardrobe Ensemble took the play up to Edinburgh where it earned rave reviews.

Now back in Shoreditch for a longer run, the play will be aiming to humorously highlight the challenges and pitfalls of growing up as a member of the class of ’72.

“You had the first gay pride march in London and Lady Chatterley’s Lover was around,” Brennan says. “But then you had Mary Whitehouse and the National Festival of Light trying to ‘restore Christian morals’. So it was quite an interesting time.”

1972: The Future of Sex
12–23 April
Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old Street, EC1V 9LT

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