Max Berry, Contributing Critic - New York City
Sex Ed is something that everyone has had some sort of encounter with in one way or another, whether it was extremely restrictive in the information given (perhaps even no information at all) or given way too much information to the point of confusion. Often as we grow older we find that the information that we received as children was a little off or just downright wrong. This is what “Miseducated” is about.
“Miseducated” was created and directed by Ben Gorodetsky, Peekaboo Pointe, and Hilary Preston and features original music by Chanan Ben Simon. The show begins quite unexpectedly, with Gorodetsky inviting the audience to share their own experiences of sexual (mis)education, both setting the stage for what’s to come as well as easing us in to the uncomfortable topic with fun personal stories and his quick and clever banter off of each. Gorodetsky creates a stand-up comedy vibe that is very much welcomed, given the often unpleasant topic. Right as the show begins, the audience is given the opportunity to chuckle uncomfortably much like we all did in middle school when we discussed these topics for the first time.
Though, the show doesn’t let us stay in that place. Now that we are laughing in discomfort, it asks a different question. Why is a room full of adults still chuckling uncomfortably at a topic that should,ideally, be easy to talk about by now? What is it about the way sex was taught and discussed when we were young that leads us to still feel like putting our head down and looking nervously at our phones? Also, how does the lack of good information (or any information) about sex affect our relationships when we grow up?
“Miseducated” is based on interviews that the creators conducted with real people about how their sex education has shaped their views on sex and relationships. We hear these interviews and all of the absurd nonsense that these people were given, all accompanied by a beautifully choreographed dance, illustrating the frustration and self hatred that can come with this kind of misinformation. The nonsense ranges from just kind of silly to down right infuriating. We hear things like the “piece of tape” analogy, where kids are told that if they keep “sticking” themselves to things that eventually they will be all used up and not stick to anything anymore, and that no one will want them because “who would want a used up piece of tape?” “Miseducated” highlights the damage and self-loathing that this and many other kinds of “teaching” can cause, and does so spectacularly.
“Miseducated” will have you laughing one moment and then seething with anger the next. It perfectly balances a sense of “Look at what we’re doing” with a sense of “We can do better”, and ultimately it’s that very phrase “We can do better” that fuels most of the play. By the end you want to do better, you want to create a world where people have healthier attitudes about sex and relationships and where they don’t have to be ashamed or harmed or confused by information given to them by people who seem to be just as confused as they are. In a world that is moving ever closer to having more open and honest conversations about sexuality, “Miseducated” is a great step towards that goal.
“Miseducated: An oral history of sexual (mis)education” was created and directed by Ben Gorodetsky, Peekaboo Pointe, and Hilary Preston, with original music by Chanan Ben Simon.
It featured: Tiger Bay, Chanan Ben Simon, Malena Dayen, Emily Twines, Luxe Fatale, Ben Gorodetsky, Edie Nightcrawler, Peekaboo Pointe, and Hilary Preston.
With Lighting design by Christina Tang.
Stage Managed by Sizzle Dizzle.