From the very high attendance and an audience composed of all ages, Sabrina Mahfouz’s play on the subject of brothel sex is creating much interest. The play is set in a bedroom in an expensive London brothel.
Marley (Nadia Clifford), aged 21, is preparing herself for her first client on her first night. AJ (Faraz Ayub) enters. He is trying to look cool but he is apprehensive. It transpires it is also his first time in a brothel. His mates have paid for the hour as a 21st birthday present. Thus, they can both be described as brothel virgins.
Marley puts on an east European accent thinking this will add to her sexuality but accidentally she slips into her London accent. For AJ this spoils the whole atmosphere. For the remainder of the play he keeps his clothes on and Marley does not take off here dressing gown. What ensues is a long and basically friendly conversation, examining the circumstances why on this particular night they are where they are and the whole issue of sex for payment. AJ, for perhaps the first time in his life, discards his macho view of himself.
Prostitutes are generally regarded by novelists and journalists in a dismissive way. The value of this play is in dispelling certain myths about all prostitutes. Marley is highly intelligent, confident and ambitious. She does not do drugs. Her character is complex; she is no two dimensional figure. As to whether she is typical of her profession, I would doubt.
Another general conclusion would be that it is safer for the girls to work in licensed brothels rather than on the streets. However, the play’s weakness is that the Marley/AJ contact would be a most rare occurrence and some of their conversation does lack credibility. That said, it is a compelling watch.
Reviewed by Ben
Underbelly Cowgate/Belly Button; 61a
2 to 26 August 2012 (not 13)
17.20 – 18.20
Fringe Programme Page Number: 306