THE TALK / Mish Grigor

It's a basic fact of parenting that children grow up to do things you might personally find regrettable: contract sexual diseases, for instance, or make theatre, or worse, make theatre about contracting sexual diseases. Mish Grigor's parents have approved a version of her text for The Talk but not, she twinkles, this one. And whether or not that or anything else she says in the show is true is irrelevant; she transcends old-fashioned morals and conventional proprieties the moment she describes the size of her father's cock in a reported conversation with her mother, and just keeps travelling from there.

At the heart of The Talk is a frustration: that every one of us is alive because two people had sex, and yet culturally we're terrible at talking about it. Grigor plunges her family into discomfort when she starts interrogating them about how they fuck: no one can understand why she's doing it, but that incomprehension is part of the point. The prim silence we observe around sex allows all manner of inequalities to persist: not least, the one demonstrated within Grigor's own family, whereby her father is cheerfully being sucked off by a third wife, while her mother is single, wary of online dating, and contemplating a future in which perhaps she never has sex again.

Lack of communication also breeds misinformation and fear: the fear that Grigor confesses feeling not only for but of her brother, now living with HIV. It's left to him to explain, patiently, that modern medication makes the virus undetectable in his blood stream. No one knows what effect it will have on the body long-term, he adds, but even if it kills me, at least it will stop me killing anyone else.

In this, and throughout the show, the words of Grigor's family are spoken by members of the audience: she takes our presence in the room as consent, and in doing so glances at another critical problem caused by lack of decent conversation about sex. The show relies on general embarrassment for its humour: if everyone in the room were comfortable rather than coy in talking about their bodies and its pleasures, The Talk would lose much of its piquancy. But society as a whole might gain, Grigor argues: especially the people within it who aren't heterosexual cis-men. (MC)

The Talk is on at 16.00 at Forest Fringe (Out of the Blue Drill Hall) unitl August 20th. See venue for accessibility information - http://forestfringe.co.uk/edinburgh2016/artist/mish-grigor/

Another argument for more and better talking about sex, in the Wardrobe Ensemble show 1972: The Future of Sex: http://www.thewardrobeensemble.com/#!1972-the-future-of-sex/c13ut

On Paul Goodman, whose 1960 book Growing Up Absurd argued that the fettering of adolescent sexuality was crucial to subduing the human spirit within a capitalist system: http://www.paulgoodmanfilm.com/old/the_relevance.html

Writing on consent from the Edinburgh fringe: https://katewyver.wordpress.com/2016/08/08/zero-something-important/

On the 3D model of a clitoris, to be used in French sex education: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/aug/15/french-schools-3d-model-clitoris-sex-education

On HIV treatment: http://www.tht.org.uk/myhiv/HIV-and-you/Your-treatment/HIV-treatment