Review: The Lesson (Gracia Rios, online)

A riveting performance of absurdist comedy from writer-performer Gracia Rios, performed at the Actors Centre during the Maiden Speech festival, and at the Old Red Lion in the Where Are We Now festival.

Essentially a clown show on the topic of sexual assault, consent, and how men see the female image, this belies its serious topic by the use of drawings, audience participation, and a forthright delivery.

At slightly under forty minutes, this has moments which are both hilarious and educational, as well as making the audience think about the truly shocking messages being discussed.

The opening scene, describing the woman’s body parts in a detached way, like pieces of a plastic assembly kit, is chilling, and the use of clown music and motif is disturbing and provocative.

Gracia Rios in The Lesson

A scene around porn and expectations aroubd sex, delivered with a doll, underlines how young a boy or girl can be when exposed to such unrealistic material, when fantasy may be interpreted as what is demanded as a consensual experience.

The Lesson is an uneasy watch, but a necessary one, and a huge step forward from the advice of just four decades ago I once received that “men can’t always stop, even if you say no”.

It is not just about perceptions of sexual assault, but also about the prosecution of perpetrators and their tendency to fail, and the attempts to quiet women who are both sexual beings and sentient beings with control over their own bodies.

Ultimately this a show for adults which delivers a potent message with a wink and a smile, through a succession of clowning and concise expression, and impresses with its energy and power.

You can view The Lesson until 5 April 2021 – tickets here.

Image credit: Lexi Clare

LouReviews received complimentary access to review The Lesson.