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Good vibrations fade at the sex aids office

Sex Cells, The Bear Pit Theatre, Rother Street, Stratford, until July21.

This debut play by Anna Longaretti opens in a call centre where four women sit side by side taking orders for numerous different types of sexual aids.

Above them hangs a banner with the words Aphrodite awaits ‘The Goddess of sexual rapture.’ Within minutes the audience is laughing at the variety of ridiculously named pieces of equipment that people are ordering.

However this does not last long as we learn more about each of the women’s lives. Sylvie (Karen Welsh) a French woman talks endlessly about the problems a woman faces when she is unable to bear a child. Beside her sits Lily (Lucinda Toomey) an older woman who is married with one child. She has no feeling for her husband and has almost lost contact with her son. Next in line is Janice (Stephanie Surrey) who has five children. Her life is spent caring for them; she has no time to herself. Finally there is Tiffany (Ally Gibson) a young woman who enjoys a drink and casual relationships with men. So here we have an array of women with very different lives all working together in a rather claustrophobic setting each one with different hopes and concerns. Their boss Mr Causeway convincingly played by Philip Hickson. He too has a sad and lonely life. His role brings a sense of balance to the play and as we become aware of his love for Lily we grow to like him more and more. This is a well written play, complemented by some fine acting. Lily (Lucinda Toomey) possibly has the best script and her acting is outstanding. Janice (Stephanie Surrey) has some wonderful facial expressions that reflect her feelings better than words.

Sylvie flares easily between anger and happiness reflecting her agonized existence with a wonderful French accent. The title, Sex Cells, certainly works for this play in that it will attract a wide audience. It is however a play that focuses predominantly on the lives of women and most will find aspects that they can identify with. There are moments of great laughter and great sorrow. The performance is engaging and thought provoking; with an excellent cast, good directing and an engaging setting.

Winner!