The first surprise of the show comes before even entering the venue. I arrive at the listed location, Sweet Axe Throwing, to find it closed, and a sign pointing us upstairs to a large loft space with a bar called Whiskey and Smoke. The venue is brand new, with some construction still happening out the back, and it is beautiful. The contemporary refurb and exposed brick is separated into two sections by a series of hung curtains. As we gather in the “foyer” section, we are handed our tickets, which are numbered and have one or two sentences of text on the back.
From here we are invited all together into the main space, where we sit around three tables, waiting for the show to start. Now, I’m going to be intentionally scarce on detail from this point on. The best part of Sexy Golf Boy is the way Fenn sits with us in the unknown as we slowly build each scene, game or oddity together. I won’t spoil that experience for anyone, but if you really want to know, I’m sure another review platform has provided a thorough plot summary.
You may find yourself playing golf, competing for bread, or drinking champagne in this show – but never in the way you might expect. Fenn fosters intensive audience interaction in a subtle but highly effective way. From the off, we are trained that failure will lead to applause and that if we are ever uncomfortable we need only make a cross with our forearms, no-deal-style, and the sexy golf boy will leave us be. These clear rules create a comfort in the room that sees every single audience member leave their seat to be a part of proceedings at least once. This comfort is also integral, as part of the joy of the show is the non-verbal golf boy pushing our limits and encouraging us to sit in the unknown for as long as possible. At times this can be unnerving, but you quickly learn that there will be a pay-off and it will, most of the time, be worth it.
Fenn is a master of performing in this tension space and their ease of performance allows us to make it through. The show is at its best when the performer is genuinely as surprised as we are and has to adapt to make audience offers work. Fenn is an adept improviser, twisting and turning the outcomes to always land in favour of fun – and ever charming along the way.
I’ve seen the entire canon of George Fenn works, and this may be my new favourite. It’s the same weird and demanding audience experience, but Sexy Golf Boy also has some clear themes to chew on – an element that past works have sometimes lacked. There is a clear underlying question about wealth inequality and the impact of overconsumption on our society and planet. It gives this very strange show a context that allows more “normy” viewers like myself a way in.
Sexy Golf Boy isn’t a show for everybody, but if you like yourself some off-the-wall weirdness at Fringe time, then it’ll be just the show for you! It’s on until Saturday, and tickets can be purchased through the Fringe website.
DISCLAIMER: I have known George for many years and spent a stint of two years producing his work. He’s been a mentor, a collaborator and a friend. In normal circumstances I wouldn’t have reviewed this show, but with the absolute clusterfun of scheduling voluntary reviewers during Fringe time, here we are. I have done my utmost to provide a fair review, but acknowledge that some bias may be present in my experience. If you have any feedback on our reviews, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.