Melbourne Festival’s All The Sex I’ve Ever Had is a shining beacon of both inclusivity and accessibility. Most importantly, it presents a chance for our elders to speak openly and freely, imparting some of their wisdom. We live in a society which is very much ageist; according to media and the mainstream, we apparently become redundant past a certain age. However, the truth could not be further from this. In this performance-cum-panel discussion, these barriers and misconceptions are triumphantly torn down. The collective wisdom and truth on display here is mind-blowing, genuine, and above all, sincere.
Beginning in the 1930s, continuing through to the present day and then offering a cheeky nod to the future, the way in which these interconnecting stories have been placed side by side by director Darren O’Donnell makes for an interesting and telling picture of the individual’s history and body memory. This also gives context and tells the story of our collective histories and how each new decade heralds new achievements and progression, but each bringing their own sets of challenges and adversity. This is perhaps no better demonstrated by the brief interludes that delve into the progression of Queer Rights and the rights of People Of Colour. Other themes that taint this otherwise celebratory performance include the heroin epidemic of the late 70s and earl 80s, and stories of war and the way its repercussions filter down to affect the individual.
Yes, of course, this performance talks about sex in all its embarrassing, exciting, wild, chaotic, sometimes violent and loving ways, but by the end of this work, it’s not about the sex anymore. Like a one-night stand, the relationship and the connection between the audience and the performance intensifies into something much, much more intimate. Bearing witness to this work is a god damn privilege. Mammalian Diving Reflex has given Melbourne audiences perhaps one the best examples of theatre and community coming together that we are likely to see this year, and perhaps for some years to come.
This work is important; it’s a coming together of generations – no pun intended. Everyone needs to see this performance, and more importantly, we need to walk away with a change in perception, a newfound respect, and an eagerness to listen to the stories of those that have come before us. All The Sex I’ve Ever Had is easily a highlight of this year’s festival.