In my twenties, before I came to Australia, I regularly used to hitch-hike from England to Italy. I was struck by how frank and open conversations with the drivers who picked me up often were, more so than with some of my closest friends. I knew this was something to do with the transitoriness of the encounter – the driver and I would probably never see each other again. The anonymity of the confessional functions in somewhat the same way.
The performance titled Sex and Death_and the Internet at the Adelaide Festival was in some ways an attempt to replicate this transitoriness of encounter. In just half an hour, I was alone, face to face with a screen on which was someone older than me whom I’d never met and would be most unlikely ever to meet again. My interlocutor was a lovely octogenarian called Lorna, and our answers to the questions were indeed frank and therefore interesting. We took turns in asking each other questions about our lives, broadly on the subjects of sex and death, questions which arose from a pack of cards prepared for the purpose. I was asked, for example, how my attitude to sex had changed over my life. I shall not burden you with my answer.
You may know such question games. There is one by Esther Perel, the Belgian psychotherapist, celled “Where should we begin?” A variation of her game is that each player can be asked the same question. In the case of Sex and Death… this was not the case, and I would have found it more interesting if it had been. That would have produced a mutual engagement, which was apparently not the object of the exercise.
Sex and Death_and the Internet went OK, but right at the end of our half hour the Internet let us down, and we were unable to complete our session with what would have been a “memento” of the session. This was not solved by the tech team, and we had to get off at Redfern…
The Adelaide Festival last year mounted a series of encounters between a musician and the audience of one (remember Covid?), called One on One, which I reviewed in these pages. Sex and Death_and the Internet trod in its footsteps, but much less successfully, it seemed to me. If my flight back home from Adelaide on Monday is changed yet again, I may find myself hitch-hiking back. Who knows what stories will be told then.
2022 Adelaide Festival
Sex and Death_and the Internet
concept Samara Hersch
Director Samara Hersch
Venue: Level 4, Union House, University of Adelaide
Dates: 9 – 20 March 2022