Verbatim theatre – real stories, usually obtained through interviews – has taken many forms; actors repeating the words they hear through earphones, the interviews turned into scripts, even sung dialogue. Here we have people on stage speaking for themselves, in this case eleven sex workers.
There are six women, three men and two trans. They include a male escort and a dominatrix. They’re from all sorts of backgrounds with all sorts of tales to tell; stories of addiction, trafficking, abuse, dysfunctional relationships and loving relationships. The stories are interwoven such that each person’s story unfolds over the whole ninety minutes rather than in sequence. There’s movement, changes of clothes and other stage business to avoid it being just talking heads.
It’s often explicit, sometimes moving and sometimes very funny. Some of the stories have more substance than others. One former singer tells of her crack addiction, her child and her mother, then towards the end proves conclusively that she’s still got it, singing beautifully about her experiences, accompanied brilliantly by another on a grand piano. We hear about their motivation and their golden rules (no real names, always use protection etc.). The trans stories are particularly insightful.
Because they were willingly telling their own stories, it didn’t seem voyeuristic; in fact it seemed therapeutic. I found it informative and fascinating and it’s clearly ground-breaking. They’ve had some help structuring what they want to say as Molly Taylor is credited with ‘Text’, and it’s directed by Mimi Poskitt, but it’s real lives on stage and it makes a strong case for decriminalisation. Well done Look Left Look Right, High Tide & the Young Vic.