National Waterfront Museum, Swansea, Fri 14 Feb
Sitting in a brightly lit room in a far corner of Swansea’s Waterfront Museum, with a small bar set up in the corner, rows of fold-out chairs, and a flipchart set up on a small stage, the atmosphere ahead of Rosie Wilby’s The Science of Sex was not ‘buzzing’, but the audience were clearly anticipating our comic educator of the evening. She brightened up our small space as she cheered her way on stage in an old lab coat and very large goggles around her neck – the sort your chemistry teacher insisted you wore even though they made you look truly awful.
Originally developed for the 2009 Edinburgh Fringe show, after finding herself suddenly single in the February of that year, Rosie Wilby set out to examine the science behind sex and love. With a background in science and also a talent for stand-up comedy, Rosie has created a heart-warming and friendly show with some professionally (read: quickly) drawn diagrams and high calibre props such as a ruler with a ‘love’ and ‘sex’ balloons sellotaped to either end.
However, it’s not the props or the scientific graphs which are important here but, rather, Rosie’s likeable character and the quips and jokes that she slips in whilst discussing the creation of the Kinsey scale and other developments in sex-science in the 1950s. A particular favourite factoid of the evening (be sure to remember this one) is that viagra contains nitrous oxide which is also present in thunderstorms. A fact with no purpose or useful application but an enjoyable one nonetheless.
As Rosie herself addresses, the idea of love is routed in philosophy, but sex we can study. It is composed of scientific aspects which we can measure and plot on a graph but it all eventually returns to the idea of love, lust and attachment and the happiness each of these things can bring us. As an openly homosexual woman, it was pleasant to see Rosie talk about her sexuality freely and easily, as one would hope to see in our modern day. There are no exclusions or taboos here.
Rosie is utterly charming and completely lovely and I left feeling like I had been with an old friend, who dressed rather eccentrically, couldn’t draw a boxing glove to save her life, and rained absurd facts about sex and sexuality on me – such as a graph which demonstrated that gay men are far worse at reading maps than straight women. I am glad that so many years after she first developed this show that she continues to perform it upon request and am now planning to make a journey to witness her discussing her experience of 90s feminism in her most recent offering, Nineties Woman.
words LAUREN SOURBUTTS photo MIKE KEAR