Revealed At Bolivar Hall: The Truth About Sex & Romance.

In 2000,the actor Mel Gibson starred in a film titled “What Women Want”. It wasn’t a huge box-office hit. It managed, according to some reviews, to succeed as “ a light-hearted and fun romantic comedy” but the denouement “lacked credibility and poignancy”. Which was a polite way of saying that it avoided dealing with the real issue. This is definitely not a criticism that could be directed at “Its Better To Have Sex in Peace”, a theatrical presentation which had its first London performance  at Bolivar Hall on Saturday 24th October and will be repeated this Saturday 31st October, beginning at 7.40pm. As the programme notes point out, the piece “has triumphed in many theatres around the world and has been translated into many different languages”. This latest adaptation is by Eduardo Eimil,”one of the most outstanding young directors in Cuban theatre”.

For around ninety minutes the focus is on just one person: The Colombian actress, Ximena Rico, who leaps, glides and sways around the stage with unflagging energy throughout the performance. A translation in English of her flow of monologue and banter is projected onto the wall behind her for the benefit of non-Spanish speakers as are the images (along with suitable latino rhythms) which accompany her brief disappearances to change into a myriad of costumes. This theatrical work is described in the programme as “ A spectacular and quirky satire about sexuality, a sunny and daring piece which helps us to demystify sex and makes fun of the ignorance that surrounds it”. It certainly gets right down to the point from the outset, when Adam and Eve discover that there is rather more to life than just easting apples. It then moves on swiftly to modern times and the complexities, miscomprehension andsometimes utter confusion which appear to be an integral – but totally avoidable – part of contemporary sexual relationships. “My mother”,declared Ximena Rico, “Told us that men only wanted one thing. But she never told us what that was”.

In her recent interview with ‘Expressnews’, the actress professed herself to be ‘intrigued” by how any English person who attends her show will react to it. She is well aware that they are less likely than Latin Americans to identify with its principal theme, especially as “here in London people often don’t make the connection between sex and love”. That was undoubtedly the case with Saturday’s performance: The laughter clearly came from the Latinos in the audience of around 60 people. The handful of Anglo-Saxons present remained subdued – and not just for linguistic reasons. Their attitude towards this particular pastime was once summarised by the Hungarian author, George Mikes, in his book ‘How To Be An Alien’ when he wrote: “Continental people have sex life; The English have hot-water bottles”. Most Latinos probably still believe that this is as true today as it was then – that the English simply don’t know how to enjoy themselves. Which only means they don’t appreciate that for many Anglos, “having fun” means walking the dog, reading the Sunday newspapers, tending the garden and washing the car. Therefore they don’t need sex.  Ximena Rico’s response to that would for sure be that they have no idea what they ( and their women) are missing and  they should come to her show to find out. For the Latinos who just want confirmation that they are ( so they think) getting it all right and for any Anglos who want to discover what all the fuss is about: Next Saturday is( for the moment) the last opportunity to see this theatrical work. It’s well worth making the effort.

Filed under: Theatre & Film | Posted on October 27th, 2009 by Colin D Gordon

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