A fun but morally unhinged comedy about three sisters who take on the sex industry at its own game
There are two approaches to deepest, darkest social media humiliation: hide in shame or style it out. In playwright Milly Thomas’s stylish but naive sex comedy, 19-year-old Nicola (Georgia Groome) goes for option two, sharing a video of a wild Ibiza sexploit before her blackmailers can. Then she takes advantage of her notoriety by starting an unlikely webcam porn empire with her business-savvy siblings.
We’re in a kind of slick pink fantasy land, where three teenage sisters can take on the sex industry and win, landing untold fame and fortune by servicing Nicola fans with webcam vids. But this is no third-wave-feminist fairytale: they become caught in a web of moral ambiguity after they co-opt the idea of a ‘safe space’ to set up film-your-own porn booths for willing punters. There are plenty of easy laughs as Nicola wobbles dildos, and her two sisters struggle to get to grips with the slippery new trade they’re entering. Alice Hewkins is hilarious as prissy, smartphone-savvy Chloe, and the cast bops about in bear masks to represent the wise-cracking internet commentariat.
But although director Holly Race Roughan’s production fully exploits the comic ins and outs of masturbating for money, it can’t hide the script’s real emotional blindspots. At no point do Nicola’s sisters express even the slightest discomfort about pimping their sibling over the world wide web, and they only just draw the line at home-made incest. Meanwhile Chloe, aged 15, is allowed to leave school and devote herself to running the Instagram presence of their porn empire – without a whimper of sisterly regret.
As the trio get drawn deeper into their Faustian bargain with the sex industry, the plot’s bedevilled by clumsy twists and blunt satire. There’s plenty of fun, but when it comes to heart, this play’s as hollow as a blow-up sex doll.