Image: Damien Frost

 

Eleven sex workers share their real life stories in this powerful production of verbatim theatre directed by Mimi Poskitt and edited by playwright Molly Taylor. The brave performance demonstrates not only a highly diverse cast, ranging from gay Peter, still sprightly at 67, to timid Zariya, clearly affected by her experiences, but also contains vastly different perspectives. There is Ric London, proudly proclaiming his profession across his t-shirt as an ‘orgasm donor,’ describing the unpleasant treatment he received, not in sex work, but while working at Sainsbury’s. Then there is Beth, candid and matter- of-fact, who chose to go into sex work as a means of paying off her student drama loan. She explains that after the brothel she worked at was raided, the seventeen hours she spent in police custody were far more degrading than anything she had experienced on the job. ‘Do I look like I’ve been bloody trafficked? From Stoke?!’ She ironically points out that despite the police woman suggesting it was ‘perhaps time to find a different career’, she has been left unable to do so, thanks to the criminal record she has been given, despite the fact that, as pointed out by many of them, sex workers do not create crime. Compare these experiences to those more tragic and harrowing, such as Adorable’s heart wrenching story of being trafficked from West Africa under the false pretence of a college education, and D, who fell into prostitution to support a cocaine habit she developed after encountering some low points in her singing career.

The decision to use real sex workers instead of actors only serves to make this piece all the more compelling, successfully screaming to challenge the stigma that surrounds sex work. Emotions clash and collide as their stories flit from harmony and heart-breaking to comic and raucous laughter as Governess Elizabeth wheels her trolley of goodies out, complete with the male version of a chastity belt – her explanation of which leaves most of the male members of the audience crossing their legs!

This roller coaster of shared and varying experiences and emotions casts a much needed light, leaving the audience to confront and question their own pre-conceived thoughts, thus creating a fresh arena for conversation, which is one of the aims of the project. Participants are hopeful that this will lead to changes of the law which currently forces them to work on their own, which consequently places them in vulnerable and potentially dangerous positions. Leave your judgements at the door – you won’t need them anymore on your way out. A truly wonderful performance that will stay with you, long after the theatre lights have gone out and the professionals and punters have gone home.

See Me Now, Young Vic theatre, London. March 2017.

Lorna Guy

Lorna Guy

Lorna Guy from Purley, Surrey, especially enjoys writing creative non-fiction and poetry, centring her work around her love for nature wherever possible. A keen reader from a young age, favourites include works by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, William Shakespeare, Thomas Harris, Jane Austen and the poetry of William Wordsworth. Looking forward to starting an MA in September and then teaching English abroad, she ultimately hopes to find a career where she can pursue her passion for nature writing.