Consensual Boldly Stares Sexual Consent In The Eye

Consensual, National Youth Theatre ★★★★☆

Tiffany Pritchard
By Tiffany Pritchard Last edited 30 months ago
Consensual Boldly Stares Sexual Consent In The Eye Consensual, National Youth Theatre 4
Photo by Helen Maybanks.

From fiery scenes with a teacher and her young student to a troubled teen incriminated for sexting — writer Evan Placey makes it clear: sex is not always straightforward, for anyone of any age.

The National Youth Theatre unabashedly dances, sings and acts its way around the hot topic of sexual consent in its latest show, Consensual. Set in a secondary school, where words like flat roof'n and hyping are used interminably, one teacher (superbly played by Lauren Lyle) is assigned the gruelling task of educating year 11 students with the new Healthy Relationships curriculum. Just as one might remember their own awkward moments during sex education, it's not surprising that her efforts are met with resistance.

Writer's Guild award-winner Placey gives a raw edge to the fast-paced dialogue, making for heated debates sparking questions as to what sexual consent is, and when should it actually become an issue.  

Reminiscent of the 2013 case when 30 year-old maths teacher Jeremy Forrest fled to France with his 15 year-old student, the two hour play boldly addresses 'both sides of the story'. It suggests there's not always a clear answer, much as school systems would like to construe in its PSHE education guidelines.

The compact venue is electrified by the National Youth Theatre's quick-witted ensemble cast (who rehearsed in workshops as seen in the Sky Arts documentary Generation Sext), along with director Pia Furtado's brilliant use of swift transitions, invaluably utilising each moment on stage. Young theatregoers will also no doubt engage with musical director Jim Hustwit's diverse score of rap music and reader's theatre-style sing-alongs, creating a hearty burst of urban 'flava'.

Consensual is at The Ambassadors Theatre, West Street WC2H 9ND, until 2 December. Tickets from the National Theatre £17.50-£27.50. Londonist saw this production on a complimentary ticket.

Last Updated 10 October 2015

Andy Brice

This sounds important. I've noticed a lot of sex educators reduce the whole thing to "No means no, yes means yes." but gloss over all the vague "maybe" signals that sadly are central to our stupid, antagonistic, hyper-masculine, slut-shaming flirting norms.