Cherry is a verbatim piece of physical and interactive theatre that asks the questions what is virginity, and why is it still such a taboo topic? While this may initially seem a potentially frivolous issue, it is one that everyone experiences. Cherry reexamines the discourse surrounding virginity and the nuanced and even messy situations that can arise. Through relatable, eye opening, and heart-wrenching stories, it quickly makes you realise that this pressure is a massive issue on the psychological state of young, often vulnerable, teenagers; even if they aren’t always aware of it.
Once someone is no longer a virgin they tend to store the memories of their “first time” away, either because they are difficult to think about, or just not very relevant anymore. Those who have a difficult first time are often shamed or discouraged from talking about it. It is essential that these issues are discussed, especially when they regard such intimate and physical subjects. World crises are often put on full blast in the news and discussed in classrooms, but in many instances schools’ sex education classes are completely lacking.
Cherry allows us to realise that the social construct and pressure of “losing one’s virginity” has affected everyone in Western culture, even if they didn’t ever realise it before. It shows the importance of respecting and listening to your body and how difficult that can be when you don’t understand it as an early teenager. As gender and sexual fluidity are more aptly talked about why should such a concept even exist? The performers of Cherry gracefully ask these questions through physical storytelling as they directly connect with the audience.
There is a strong variety of types of storytelling such as breaking the fourth wall, use of music, shadowplay, projections and many pop culture references. Hearing clips from popular movies blatantly insulting “virgins” provides cold hard evidence of the pressures created. The snappy transitions between stories and audio clips keep the audience constantly engaged and interested in the variety of vignettes. The actors are excited, committed and create a compelling and unified ensemble. They come ready to play and believe in the stories they are telling. However, there is clearly a wide range of previous acting experience. Although they create a strong ensemble, some of the actors suffer with their solo delivery. In moments they seem unsure of themselves and their characters become general. Through creating more precise detail in every single character breakdown their physical and mental confidence could improve which will enhance the piece as a whole.
Anecdotes are shared from a variety of sexual orientations, religious backgrounds, and ages, but the experiences of individuals in different racial communities and the transsexual community could be explored more. The construct of virginity already has an enormous pressure around it which affects everyone, but I imagine it especially affects people who are potentially unsure of their gender, people who have not come out yet, or racial minorities that typically experience more pressure and oppression in general. Cherry is off to a great start with exploring the influence of virginity on different types of people, but once it begins to reach even more communities it will be fully on its way to creating a paradigm shift in society’s view of virginity.
Cherry is a bright, thoughtful and influential burst of energy that keeps you questioning virginity and sexuality for days. As it expands with time it will become a solid piece that should be seen by all ages, especially teenagers experiencing these real pressures everyday. 4/5
Review written by Rebecca Ozer.
Cherry was performed at The Space @ Venue 45 as part of The 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. For more information on the production visit here…