[star rating = 3/5]
LEAVE the morning light behind and descend into the darkness of Summerhall’s Red Lecture Theatre on a journey through some of history’s filthiest love letters.
Using letters written by notable historical figures alongside anonymously donated sexts, artist and comedian Rachel Mars explores how technology has drastically changed the way we express ourselves sexually in Your Sexts Are Shit: Older Better Letters.
Mars launches straight into the hilariously graphic letters sent from James Joyce to his partner Nora Barnacle, shocking and delighting the audience in equal measure and setting the scene for the next hour of debauchery.
Contrasting these erotic and intimate letters with some truly rubbish sexts, as well as her own personal experiences, Mars attempts to prove just how much better we used to be at expressing our desires.
The tonal shifts throughout have clearly been carefully considered and keep the performance moving along. Just as the shock value of the letters starts to wear off, Mars moves on to the more intimate discussions of her own journey, or throws in a terrible sext to get you laughing again.
Mars herself is also an excellent performer. Her delivery is smooth and perfectly timed, with an unapologetic confidence that lends her performance weight and sends a bold, sex-positive message.
For a show about kinky letters, the performance is surprisingly nuanced. Mars shows us that although a carefully considered letter is in her view superior, texts too have their upsides.
The immediacy of modern technology means that we can be a constant part of each other’s lives, which can create a kind of intimacy that is valuable in a totally different way.
Mars also makes a point about women’s voice and place in history. Though the letters of her partner Jacob were kept, Nora’s have been lost – you’re left to come to your own conclusions as to why. Mars gives Nora her voice back at the end of the show with a recording of what one of Nora’s letters could possibly have sounded like.
On top of this, Mars touches on the queer experience, showing through the more reserved and intimate letters of the past as well as her own journey how drastically different things used to be, and stresses the importance of unearthing these forgotten letters and giving queer people from history proper representation today.
Although at first it seems like Your Sexts Are Shit: Older Better Letters would have maybe been better suited in a night-time slot or at a bar, the fact that you have a clear head means you are able to fully appreciate the deeper meaning of Mars’ raunchy solo show, and reflect on the way you communicate within your own relationships.