THEATRE / Death and Dancing - BAC, SW11

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Gawky androgyne (Max, played by writer and performer Claire Dowie) picks up pouting pretty boy (Max, played by Mark Pinkosh) and persuades him, with the help of half a dozen frilly frocks, that it's more fun being neither gay, nor straight, neither a man nor a woman but 'anything I like'. He's a push-over, overcoming initial horror at transvestism and, in a wonderfully comic scene, childishly relishing the sensuous whooshing of a skirt around his legs as much as playing it straight in a suit and tie when he takes female Max out on the town. Dowie's denunciation of society's determination to condition, then label and box as far as an individual's gender and sexuality are concerned, may be heavy- handed at times, but she is careful to direct her wit at every possible sexual variant and permutation. So far, so good, and here the evening should have ended. Unfortunately, after the interval, Dowie charts the couple's post-graduate bust-up when this 'anything goes' philosophy becomes a luxury that, as a working man, male Max feels unable to afford. From here the play disintegrates into a nave, childish and confused rant against capitalism ('anything involving a wage packet means someone is being exploited'). Dowie should stick to sexual politics (a subject she obviously knows all about) and to a semi- stand-up format where her lack of acting technique is amply compensated by her humour and uncompromising passion.

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