Review: My First Time at The Butterfly Club16 March 2018
In the mood for something cheeky, playful and more than just a little bit raunchy? If so, look no further than the off-Broadway hit My First Time. Currently playing at Melbourne’s iconic cabaret venue The Butterfly Club, this intimate and interactive production is perfectly suited for the club’s cosy, sensual atmosphere.
Written by Tony-award winning producer, Ken Davenport, the play is inspired by the website myfirsttime.com. Originating in the ’90s, this site permits users to anonymously share their experiences of their own first sexual encounters. When adapted for the stage, this premise is mimicked via audience participation- questionnaires are passed around prior to the show, encouraging viewers to anonymously submit details of their own ‘first time’:
How old were you?
What was the name of the person you first had sex with?
Do you still keep in contact with them?
The questionnaires aren’t merely a gimmick, however—these audience responses are actually incorporated into the show in multifarious ways. The show opens with a projection of statistics related to the average ‘first time’ age—both across various countries, as well as within the audience itself. Sultry ’70s wah-wah guitars play cheekily in the background, the lights are sensually dimmed, and the audience is a collective hub of nervous giggles.
Once the four actors (Melanie Dutton, Andrew ‘Ajay’ Johnson, Jess Donoghue and Laurence O’Neill) finally take to the stage, the music stops, the spotlight focuses directly on the performers, and the dialogue is rapid-fire and all-engrossing. Bouncing off one another in speedy succession, the actors quickly slip in and out of various characters with various sexual encounters. One actor begins divulging the details of “losing it rough and tough in the back of a ute”, only for another actress to follow on about “giving herself Coke douches” prior to her first experience because “everyone said it stopped you from getting pregnant”. (Note to anyone considering a Coke douche: not only is it apparently disgustingly sticky, it’s also a terribly ineffective method of contraception). These stories dart from being amusingly vulgar, to heart-warmingly sweet, to truly heart-breaking in a matter of seconds. Notably, one story shared revolved around a sister deciding to have sex with her dying brother, since he was devastated at the thought of having to die a virgin. Likewise, an anecdote surrounding one woman’s sexual encounter with a fellow student affected by cereal palsy was equally moving—especially when contrasted by the cruder, more light-hearted stories speckled throughout the hour-length production.
Despite the diversity of the stories shared, these anecdotes follow on seamlessly from one another. The actors slip effortlessly between characters of various ages, races and genders, yet the production maintains a genuine sense of spontaneity amidst these tightly choreographed dances of dialogue. Furthermore, moments where the audience’s anonymous questionnaire responses are shared on stage only heighten the play’s energy:
What would you say if you could speak to the person [that you had your first time with] now?
‘I still think about you every day’
‘You gave me crabs.’
‘Your penis is really small.’
‘I miss you.’
‘Your brother was better.’
Ending on a more serious note regarding the importance of sex education, My First Time handles an intimate topic with refreshing candidness and a healthy dose of tongue-in-cheek humour. Maybe be a bit careful about who you take with you to see this one, (hint: not your grandmother), but if you’re looking for a guaranteed laugh, My First Time is a uniquely interactive and energetic production sure to set the tone for a fantastic night.