REVIEW: AD LIBIDO (Vault Festival) ★★★

It takes a daring comedy writer to take on the challenge of female sexual dysfunction. This brash, one-woman show is, for some, a firm favourite at the Vault Festival 2018. The show is a snapshot in time, telling the story of Fran Busche, the writer and energetic performer of her own tale of vaginal woe. For me, the show was as much a learning experience as it was a comedy. Overhead projection of a diagrammatic vulva (complete with ‘debris’) brought back horrific memories from sex education lessons.

Nevertheless, I persevered and enjoyed the evening. Fran is no different to approximately 33% of other females who experience sexual dysfunction and from the titters, choked-laughter and occasional guffaws, from the lovingly recounted tales of fumblings with boyfriends it appears the largely female audience empathises and shares the bond of similar experiences. The quickly-shared glances of couples in the audience told the keen observer there was more material waiting to be written from the audience’s personal lives too.

Amusing stories told with refreshing honesty; about ‘sex camp’, friends, and embarrassing doctors’ appointments are intersected by Busche’s witty, if occasionally droll, songs. A particular favourite of mine was the symbolic fumbling in a red tent, finally emerging as a proud sexual beast – the dolphin. With no expense spared, I can honestly say Busche’s dolphin costume is quite possibly the best on the London stage this year.

Sadly I didn’t feel the bond or connection with this show that many of the audience clearly did. Beyond the comedy, the laughs and the jokes there is a serious message: everyone has issues about sex sometimes (and that’s ok). Oh, and dungarees can still be ok … even today.

Reviewed by Lee Knight


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