Sexercise the Musical

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Reviewed by Daniel Wilson

A brand new theatre, the Alex Theatre, is bringing a breath of fresh air to Fitzroy Street, with a brand new Australian musical; Sexercise. This romantic-comedy-musical is sexy and funny, rich in Australian references, well written, expertly produced, and features an enthusiastic and talented cast.

“This is not a show about sex,” director Sara Grenfell explains, “it is a show about 6 very real people of a certain age struggling with their day to day existence and failing relationships, trying desperately to find closeness with each other.”

Sam (Nicole Melloy) and Joe (Lyall Brooks) find themselves in couples therapy. They have both found success at work, they both keep fit and healthy. Superficially all is well, but like so many long term relationships, bumps and knocks along the way have sucked some of the enthusiasm out of the relationship.

Their therapist, Rhonda (Fem Belling), suggest sexercising, replacing their very regular exercise schedule with their not so regular sex schedule. The idea is that the extra physical intimacy will lead to greater emotional intimacy, while burning just as many calories.

Adding a bit of spice and drama, their therapist Rhonda hooks up with Joe’s mate Shane (Kristin Holland), who up until that point had been a bit of a ladies man. While Rhonda and Shane’s new romance  forms a counterpoint to Sam and Joe’s mature relationship, Joe’s other mate Andy (Cameron MacDonald) finds himself in a dismally unhappy marriage with an unseen wife.

The breakout character is Sam’s mate Tania (Lulu McClatchy), who generated some huge laughs on opening night with her impeccable sense of comedy timing. Tania is a lesbian and so forms another counterpoint to the mix of relationships on stage.

Lulu McClatchy recently returned from overseas where she has been touring her comedy show ‘Supergirly’ in the UK, America and Canada, at Ediborough festival, and Just for Laughs in Montreal. She played that character for about 15 years, and last year brought a iteration to Melbourne, ‘Supergirly – return of the pop princess’.

“We are hoping to tour it next year, but it has been really nice doing something different” McClatchy explained.

She had nothing but praise for the new Alex theatre on Fitzroy Street, “It is such an amazing opportunity to have a new theatre in Melbourne”. It can be hard to get a new original work in anything other than very small theatres, – Alex is a theatre complex with theatre with a 500 seat, 330 seat, and cabaret room.

The investor, Aleksander Vass, “has such great vision for the theatre, he wants to build this off Broadway feel, so people can come in with new works like Sexercise”. It is something that for example couldn’t get straight into the larger Regent theatre with an unknown work, McCarthy explained.

Councillor Serge Thomann also had nothing but praise for the theatre, saying “it looks amazing”, and lauding it as a “great addition to our village.”

Some reviewers have been unkind to this musical. It might not be a masterful exploration of the intimate affairs of the heart against a backdrop that is the grandeur of the universe. It is instead a light-hearted reflection on relationships, which come in all forms – friends, lovers, partners, soul mates – which all need their own form of nurturing. Perhaps even sexercising.

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