What They Said About Sex is a one-person show, kind of. Its creator and writer, Steve Budd, is the only performer, but he takes us through a show unpacking sex by using stories he’s gleaned from interviews, as well as some of his own. His interviewees have extremely interesting, and oft-overlooked, experiences. Embodied by Budd throughout the play, they identify as “a gay man, a tantric sex practitioner, a trans man, and a sex-positive octogenarian.”
Though the baseline ethics of the straight male Budd taking on the voices of the people he’s spoken with feel potentially questionable, he does an excellent job of stepping in and out of each one, giving us an idea of who the real people behind the words are. Combine that with a quick and efficient hour runtime, and the show is an easy, entertaining watch. It does a great job of boiling its message down to the essentials, of succinctly trying to investigate Budd’s relationship with sex. But that also happens to be its biggest pain point.
As it turns out, the title What They Said About Sex is a bit misleading. Though Budd zips in and out of character as the aforementioned interviewees, in the end, he spends far more time detailing his own sexual encounters, revelations, and traumas. That itself is completely fine. Budd should have the space to tell his story. But there is dissonance in framing a show around others when, in the end, it seemed to use the stories of a queer man, a trans man, and two women to bolster his personal journey toward sex positivity.
In the end, Budd does do a great job bringing honesty to the conversation about sex, and getting to the very heart of what he wants to say. I just wish Budd had been more aware of the ways in which he used the stories of others to further his own.
Running Time: 65 minutes with no intermission.
What They Said About Sex plays five times from July 15 to 24, 2022, at 23rd Amendment – Formerly Washington Sports Club, 3270 M Street NW, Washington, DC. To see the performance schedule and purchase tickets ($15), go online.
COVID Safety: The audience is to remain masked for the show. The mask needs to cover your mouth and nose the whole time. Proof of vaccination and ID are checked before entry.
Director: Mark Kenward
Playwright: Steve Budd
Performers: Steve Budd
Age appropriateness: Appropriate for Adults Only