It’s striking to note that the cast and crew of this production numbers 11 women and just two men. Rarely have I ever seen such an unequal representation of gender in a theatrical show. On the female side, that is. My interest was piqued beforehand as to how this ‘imbalance’ might be relevant to the production I was about to see.
Sexual Misconduct of the Middle Classes is the story of the relationship between a university professor/author, Jon and his star-struck student, Annie. Looking down the barrel of the failure of his third marriage, Jon is feeling sorry for himself when 19-year-old Annie catches his eye, fanning the flames of his slightly diminished ego. After a few meetings, they begin an affair but, as you might guess, they’re not after the same thing.
Against the backdrop and perhaps disquieting outcome of the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial-slash-circus in the US, it’s an interesting time to watch such a play. I remember when I was at university some 30 years ago and the good-looking head of department ended up leaving his wife for our year’s star student some 15 years his junior. Not many batted an eyelid back then. There were also relationships begun by teachers at my high school with Year 12 students the year after they left school. Legal yes, but unbalanced in power and slightly seedy nonetheless. These days, in the post #MeToo era, it would be a brave man (or woman) who would think Jon’s actions defensible. In Canadian playwright Hannah Moscovitch’s tale, he enjoys a fling with Annie until circumstances dictate he end their affair. On the surface, she is the injured party but this story might just have a sting in the tail.
At just one hour 20 minutes, Sexual Misconduct of the Middle Classes is the perfect play to see before dinner or drinks, to be dissected and discussed afterwards. It’s not easy to capture and hold an audience’s attention when there are only two actors (and often one) onstage but Dan Spielman and Izabella Yena do a creditable job. One for the girls.
Sexual Misconduct of the Middle Classes
Belvoir St Theatre
Until 10 July, 2022