Women and porn. Do they watch it? Do they enjoy it? Do they hate it? To say how heavily they actually feature in it, not much is really known about how they feel towards one of the most lucrative industries in the world.
Bryony Cole and Grace Carroll explore how women view porn, sex and love in their hilarious writing debut, WET.
Holly and Sophie are two best friends both struggling with their sexuality in different ways. In an effort to regain some sexual liberation – and start a new wave of feminist porn – they decide to write their own erotic film.
Tamsin Newlands is fantastic as Holly, a woman with a sexual checklist (have sex with a carpenter… check. Have sex with a girl… check), which is actually just an attempt to cover up the fact she’s never had an orgasm. She effectively portrays the shame a woman feels not being able to experience the sheer pleasure of climaxing, and how that makes her feel left out in a society so focused on instant gratification. Claire Heverin’s character, Sophie, is completely different – she’s nursing a broken heart and is a lot more sexually closed-minded. She wants to open herself up and have as much fun as she thinks Holly’s having. Their opposing views are what make the friendship so believable – we all have that friend we wish we could be as adventurous as… and we also all have that friend we want to give a firm push and tell them to just go for it.
But the play doesn’t stop with Holly and Sophie, in fact some of the funniest scenes take place in their imagination… and on Pornhub. The play opens with Holly trying to find a video on Pornhub she actually likes. Cole and Matt Daniels act out scenarios Holly watches – and with these two the comedy really comes to life. They flit seamlessly from sexy secretary and domineering boss to plumber and desperate housewife – but it’s not seen in a dark, dirty way as porn often is. Instead they have fun with it, cue some fantastic one liners and dead pan comments that draw raucous laughter from the audience. They highlight the unrealistic expectations porn puts on both women and men, but by doing it with comedy they aren’t damning porn in its entirety – just perhaps saying it should be done differently.
In their efforts to write their porn film, the two leads discover a lot about their sexuality – Holly meets a girl (maybe that’s why she’s never felt comfortable before), and Sophie realises casual sex just isn’t for her. Their final porn film is an honest look at how women feel about sex, with some statistics thrown in by an energetic Daniels, “yeah and you know only 40% of women orgasm the first time they have sex with a new partner. So if you’ve mostly had short term partners, never having an orgasm is nothing to be ashamed of.” The aim to disassociate sex and shame from one another is focused on throughout, and it feels ironically fitting that this statement is made by the only male character – it almost feels like a call to change.
By confronting a serious matter in a playful and comic way, Cole and Carroll manage to start the conversation about women and porn as naturally as asking if someone wants a cup of tea. They ask the questions that need to be asked, and they give answers in such a clever, frank and witty way – the audience can’t wait to see what question is coming next.