A family talks about sex. An audience re-enacts their conversations. Awkward. Intimate. Hilarious.
Mish Grigor’s ‘The Talk’ is a terribly undomesticated evening. It’s one account of what happens when you start talking about sex with your family, what ‘the talk’ is, and what it shouldn’t be.
‘The Talk’ is performed solo, with the audience. Spectators are asked to volunteer and given scripts, to read cold, in front of their fellow audience. They play the role of brother, mother, etc; and together en-act the interviews. The structure is like a rowdy family dinner: the interviews are woven together, interrupt each other, stories left unfinished as a new, funnier or more interesting topic comes up.
‘The Talk’ is about discussing taboo subjects. A revelation about one family member’s HIV status is a timely reminder. It’s not about living with HIV, but rather about what kind of dialogue a Positive status has opened up within one family. The piece evokes the awkwardness, the ner-vous giggles, the difficult moments and the frustrating arguments that come when the topic of sex arises amongst family members.
My brother came out after an episode of ‘The L Word’. As the credits closed on Carmen going down on a leggy blonde in a nightclub, he said, “I’m like that. I do that.”My mother and I looked at each other, confused. “Cunnilingis?” I offered, and laughed. “No!” He said, standing up and rolling up his blanket. “Gay. I do gay. I’m gay. I do gay sex.”
In ‘The Talk’, Mish reads transcripts of interviews undertaken with her family about their sex lives. She begins by asking the audience to perform, to act as her family. She tells them that the family asked her to change their names to protect their identity (She hasn’t). She tells them that the family asked her to take out some of the more intimate details of the interviews (She hasn’t). She tells them that her family finally requested that she send them a final draft of the script for their approval before performing it in front of anybody (She hasn’t). She then asks them to raise a glass of lukewarm overpriced champagne and say ‘cheers’ to her family, and to all the things she hasn’t done for them. Then, they read.
Together they enact the family’s sex stories, Mish’s sex stories, and conversations about their sexuality.
They play out the first time that Mish’s father told her how sex works, awkwardly explaining that ba-bies are put into vaginas with penises. Then they play out sex conversation that changed my fam-ily, when Mish’s brother told the family that he was HIV Positive. As his sex life and diagnosis is discussed in more detail by the family, Mish steps outside of the action, directing the audience participants to become more and more theatrical in their portrayal of her family. The questioning becomes pushier and pushier, before finally Mish plays them an audio tap of herself having sex, calling it one last attempt at an even playing field.
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“Australian Mish Grigor’s The Talk foregrounds the artist’s heterosexual exploits while telling an achingly personal story of a family member’s coming to terms with HIV. Grigor’s reliance on the audience as actors is tricky but skilfully handled, paying off with a huge sense of camaraderie.”
Megan Garrett-Jones, REALTIME
“A wonderfully entertaining hour… It is funny, toe-curlingly frank, immensely insightful about family dynamics, and it makes you think about your own family and what you do and don’t talk about”
Lyn Gardner, The Guardian (UK)
“It’s unexpectedly loving and generous and as funny, embarrassing, awkward, dangerous and brilliant as sex.”
Anne-Marie Peard, Sometimes Melbourne
“The work uncovers something surprisingly profound about shame and fear, and a part of our emotional lives we feel unable to share. It’s also constantly asking questions about what should be kept private, and how drawing that line can undermine our closest relationships. It’s surprisingly gripping, very funny, refreshing and, as I said earlier, quite an emotional experience.”
Ben Neutz, Daily Review
Creator/Performer Mish Grigor
With consultation from Anne Thompson & Nic Holas
Performance Space, Sydney (Live Works), November 2016
Metro Arts, Brisbane, September 2016
Buzzcut Festival, Glasgow, August 2016
Forest Fringe, Edinburgh, August 2016
Field Theory’s Site is Set, Melbourne, 2015
Tours with 2. Flexible space requirements: studio theatres, rehearsal rooms, meeting rooms & other spaces up to 100 capacity. Minimal equipment needs. 2 hour bump in.