Theatre Review: Sex Education (Summerhall, Edinburgh Festival Fringe) ★★★★★

Harry Clayton-Wright has made a magnificent hour of theatrical storytelling that his mum should DEFINITELY never see. From graphic self-porn to personal revelations, Sex Education is a laugh out loud show with some thoughtful audience participation and a stunning climax.

When one of your parents refuses to talk about sex – barely able to acknowledge how you came into the world – and the other defers to buying you pornography, how do you learn about the ins and outs and ins and outs of positive sexual behaviour? Clayton-Wright utilises filmed sequences intercut with interviews with his mum to help him explore the subject in full, with many hilarious moments and some surprisingly moving ones.

From the superbly awful gay porn his dad gave him at 14 to the challenges of viewing images in the dial-up era, Clayton-Wright builds an exceptional rapport with his audience. This allows him to include those willing to share their memories of their own sex education, asking if any of the information we were given at that time was actually beneficial.

If there is one thing you can say about Clayton-Wright, it’s that he commits to a comic moment 100%. His story about the provenance of the wedding dress he is wearing, his surreal dance piece and the hilarious ending are all testament to that fact. But in amongst the laughs are some really serious observations and intimate disclosures, particularly around his dad’s life and the impact of sexual assault. Clayton-Wright articulates the absolute importance of talking, sharing and eradicating blame, declaring that “LGBT sex education is suicide prevention, it is not a debate”.

Harry Clayton-Wright’s Sex Education. Photo: Holly Revell

Ultimately, this piece is a love letter of sorts to Clayton-Wright’s mother, who bravely agrees to an extremely candid interview that is part of a performance she agrees she should never see.

Self-described as “prolifically promiscuous and sex positive”, Clayton-Wright is certainly doing his part to eradicate shame, and entertain you whilst doing it. If you take nothing else from Sex Education, trust that it will change your ability to look at a rabbit forever. Oh, and definitely try the cucumber sandwiches!

By Deborah Klayman

Sex Education plays at Summerhall, Edinburgh until 25th August.

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