Earlier this year, IdeasTap and Old Vic New Voices joined forces in the hunt for new creative talent and came up with six names, all of whom were given a large bag of money, the help of a production team and the run of the Old Vic Tunnels for an evening. Under the banner of “Coming Up Later”, the half-dozen very different productions are spread over three evenings, namely Thursday, Friday and Saturday of this week.
Although it continues tonight, all tickets are now taken up. Don't look at us - we did warn you. If you were there on Thursday, you would have seen Ophelia Bitz's ArtWank preceded by Nicola Cross' The Lonely Hearts Club who took over the Bunker Bar area with a quartet of stand-up comedians; other Club members dotted around the rest of the tunnels offering snogging practice, relationship advice, random introductions between the attendees and "7 Minutes Of Heaven".
The two female comedians fared better on the night than their male counterparts because (a) their material was more suited to the night's theme and (b) they were a heap load funnier. Sara Pascoe is a hard-bitten blonde with a cobra-like ability to strike at men's weak spots and a candid appraisal of her own sex life: "all my lovers had something in common: they were slightly more attractive than the night bus." Carly Smallman was one of the evening's highlights with her bittersweet song of love and lust in all the wrong places.
For the uninitiated, ArtWank can come as a bit of a shock with its unique blend of vintage porn, burlesque and a guest speaker from the sex industry. Hosted by Ophelia Bitz ("I will if you ask nicely"), she has taken bongo flicks from 1920s/30s French brothels, added her own soundtrack (either live, courtesy of accordionist Tom Baker aka cthonic crooner HP Lovebox, or pre-recorded silliness) and puts them on a large screen for an audience to gawp at with a mixture of embarrassment and hilarity. Sassy redhead Luna Rosa provided the burlesque while Sarah Beetson spoke about, after a visit to Japan, she re-purposed a soft drinks vending machine to sell her own smutty pics.
As we said, Coming Up Later is now sold out but keep it tuned to Londonist as we dish out the latest hot tips on a weekly basis: