REVIEW: Menage Triggers Intimacy For the Sake of Empathy

Have you ever wanted to personal with a sex worker?  Let me elaborate on that question: would you be interested in the rescue or cultural learning experience of sex work?  Like many, I have my stereotypical thoughts and opinions of sex workers and their vocation, but after seeing MENAGE my opinions have changed.

Some stereotypical opinions or thoughts of sex workers who participate in the occupation are: she comes from a broken childhood filled with memories of a father-figure type inappropriately touching her at a very young age; she can’t feel intimacy with any of her partners because she herself is stunted by her actions; or a sex worker can never be raped because her occupation calls on sexual acts all the time, therefore she is asking to be forced into sexual acts .  Well, MENAGE invites its small audience (allowing only 2 participants per experience) into an engaging discussion-based performance that addresses these stereotypes the with the intent to evoke empathy.

The experience begins in front of North Melbourne’s Townhall and quickly sets a tone of mystery and suspense as instructions lead participants to the actual performance venue (down the street from the townhall).  Greeted by a beautiful young woman at the door, we enter a world of personal care and interaction as the woman offers drinks and makes light conversation asking questions about her ‘clients.’  However, some time half way through the experience I found myself in a hypnotic trans as the young woman seamlessly details her life in the occupation: the clients she regularly meets, the son she works hard to protect and provide for, the emotions that float in and out that surprise her from certain encounters.  And suddenly, a the room swelters with radio personalities proclaiming both viewpoints for protecting or denigrating sex workers.   And, following the interruption, the young woman asks me where our conversation was last.  I am lost for thought.

MENAGE is a beautifully intimate and touching experience into a world that I would most likely never dive into without the safety net of knowing it’s theatrical intent. 

Tickets have been selling like fast since the Fringe program release, and understandably so!  I highly recommend that audiences over the age of 18 make strong attempts to see this performance.  It is well worth the uncontrollable capabilities.