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News / Theatre & Performance

We listened to six old people talk about sex– and it was absolutely charming

All the Sex I've Ever Had Melbourne cast
Photograph: Jim Lee

If you missed out on All The Sex I’ve Ever Had, a Melbourne Festival show by Canada’s Mammalian Diving Reflex, the premise was simple: six Melburnians over the age of 65 (three women and three men) sat next to each other on stage, press conference-style. Each took turns recounting their sexual history, arranged in chronological order, year by year – as prompted by a millennial sound designer, 20-year-old Moses Carr.

It almost seems wrong to be writing about the show, considering how at the start of the show producers made everyone in the audience swear an oath that “what happens at All the Sex I’ve Ever Had, stays in All the Sex I’ve Ever Had”. But it’s damn difficult so keep a show as heart-warming as this a secret, so we’ll divulge the six best things we learned.

1. It’s not all about sex. As much at this show is about the sex lives of some of Melbourne’s older locals, it’s also about their relationships and the ups and downs of life.

2. People can be very forthcoming about their sex lives in a room full of strangers. No wonder the audience was sworn to secrecy. Fifteen minutes into the show, 81-year-old Beatrix, the oldest cast member, asked the audience if they’d ever had a sexual experience with an inanimate object as a child. Hands shot up, audience became performer, and between giggles different people recounted stories of dalliances with gymnastics ropes, a school table and gardening gloves.

3. Older generations didn’t have the same freedoms we do now. Lionel, one of the youngest cast members, and someone who has been ‘out’ all his life, spoke of how much things have changed for LGBTIAQ people. He spoke of risking arrest in WA by simply hanging out with other gay friends, and having a friend die of AIDS. Of course, in light of the plebiscite it doesn’t seem like things have progressed far enough, but it’s still a different world to the one that the younger Lionel lived in.

4. Darkness is a part of life. All six of the cast have had terrible things happen to them in the past, from dealing with substance abuse to sexual assault, heartbreak and death. When one of them asked the audience whether anyone had been in a relationship riddled with substance abuse, the raising of hands confirmed what we already knew:, that heartbreak is all a part of life.

5. Age is no arbiter of sexual activity. Seriously, if only we could be like these six people when we get older. They’ve got a rock’n’roll attitude to sex, they’re cheeky as hell, and their approach to life is the definition of YOLO.

6. At the end of the day, all we have are our memories. Before the show started, audience members wandered around the foyer to look at photo albums and memorabilia from each of the cast members. These belongings didn’t mean much before the show, but seemed to gather new life afterwards, once we’d spent two hours hearing about the incredible, but in another sense completely ordinary, lives of these six Melburnians.

See what else is on stage in October.