If you’re not familiar with Harry Clayton-Wright, you’ll become intimately acquainted with the performer in the opening minutes of his show Sex Education via a video montage. Thankfully, the audience at Summerhall are fans and may have enjoyed his praiseworthy turn in Briefs: Close Encounters. To give you a flavour of Clayton-Wright’s material, this year he promised his mum he wouldn’t put anything up his bum for the show. Well, not live on stage anyway…
Sex Education is a funny and frank look at how the education we receive around sex early in life – whether it be from school, a parent or porn – shapes our sexual future. Clayton-Wright interviewed his mother for the show and throughout the piece their conversation is interspersed to give us some insight into their dynamic. His mother refused to talk about sex and his father bought him gay porn at age 14 so their approach couldn’t be more different. We are treated to some hilarious clips from that early porn and suffice to say I will never be able to look at snow, a rabbit or a torch in the same way again.
The show is a joyous, lively filth-fest which sees Clayton-Wright deliver monologues, lip-sync, dance and make the audience cucumber sandwiches in a series of elaborate outfits. The first one – a wedding dress comes with its own hilarious anecdote. He is playful with the audience and asks us about our own sex education – only two members of the full house could claim to have a positive experience. Clayton-Wright makes the important and poignant point that, “LGBT inclusive sex education is suicide prevention,” and given that educators seems to moving backwards in their inclusion of anything other than heterosexual sex on the curriculum it’s an issue that urgently needs to be addressed.
This is a sex-positive show but that doesn’t mean all of Clayton-Wright’s sexual encounters have been positive experiences. A portion of the show, slides set to the song “Would I Lie To You” detail the performer’s early exposure to sex and share some painful and traumatic experiences. Clayton-Wright is deliberately not on stage for this section and some of the slides elicit laughs from the audience but others receive gasps, of empathy and perhaps recognition for anyone who has experienced their own trauma.
Sex Education is an energetic, affecting and hilarious hour that makes you want to treat yourself with the same kindness as you treat others. Crude, rude and provocative in parts, there’s never a dull moment in Clayton-Wright’s company.