Just Don’t Do It at Reading Fringe Review

Claire Slobodian
Just don't do it Beside Ourselves Collective

Just Don’t Do It | Sunday 23 July, 2017 | Rising Sun Arts Centre

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All images courtesy of Richard McKenzie

‘Just Don’t Do It’ from Beside Ourselves Collective is a dynamic two-woman show featuring sex advice, live hula hooping and singing vagina sock puppets.  I’ll just let that sink in for a moment.

Eleanor Young and Kate Mounce introduce themselves as Christians, women and performers. ‘Just Don’t Do It’ is a hilarious romp through their thoughts and struggles with modern female sexuality and the Church’s advice on pre-marital sex (I.e: just don’t do it).

Using the analogy of a roundabout, Eleanor and Kate navigate us around Sit On It Street, Marriage Way and Celibacy Cul-de-Sac. Hazard signs go up next to Masturbation Mews and Pleasure Park gets blocked off completely.

With each stop on the road, we jump into a series of witty and charming skits touching on double standards, shame, ineffectual marriage counselling and sex education. They get more surreal with each turn, building to the smoky Catherine Deneuve-esque siren call of that sexual sock puppet. It’s silly and fun, yes, but also thought-provoking and surprisingly emotional at times.

This is still a show in development, so there’s some cross talk, a few missed sound cues and staging is minimal. But it’s all deployed to maximum effect thanks to some truly impressive physical comedy and creativity from the pair.

The front room at the Rising Sun is also a small, intimate space where acts and audience get very close at times. It’s something which could easily grow awkward in a show about sex. But Eleanor and Kate are a delight, guiding the audience though their routine with the smiley enthusiasm and gentle encouragement of summer camp counsellors.

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The audience clearly appreciate it, frequently falling into fits of giggles and leading an effusive applause at the end.  ‘Just Don’t Do It’ is a bonkers, yet touching, debut show from two versatile performers.

Make sure to seek out Beside Ourselves Collective next time they are in Reading, or at their Edinburgh Fringe Show in August. You won’t regret it.

‘Just Don’t Do It’ was performed as part of The Reading Fringe Festival.

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