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The Sex Workers’ Opera is pretty extraordinary

“Do you want to go and see a show about sex work?”

“Ooh, yeah, that sounds interesting. Tell me more.”

“It’s a combination of storytelling and political activism.”


“Told via the medium of song.”


The Sex Workers’ Opera – not quite a review

I’m not going to review it, because I don’t think a proper review could do it justice. But essentially the Sex Workers’ Opera is a collaboration between sex workers and friends of sex workers. It has incredible songs (and a four-piece band that carries them off spectacularly), and an ensemble of people with a whole range of stories to tell, from the genuinely-hurt-your-face funny to the oh-I’m-crying-in-a-theatre sad. And everything in between.

The vehicle for the storytelling is a woman trying to get her sister out of sex work – putting forward lots of the arguments for prohibition – then as the show unfolds different members of the cast step up (in incredible heels and brilliant costumes) to respond to her criticisms and make the case for decriminalisation.

But that story isn’t the thing that got me – it’s mostly just a useful way for the cast to make their case. What really works is the songs, and the short sketches in between, each of which highlights a different sex worker’s story – from the rent boy who has to persuade a client into payment (‘of course you’re special, but I still have to make rent’) through a hilarious skit on the porn laws (Charlotte Rose is a great comedy actor as well as a musical one) to the girl who likes dancing (I sobbed. She’s brilliant). In amongst it all there are snippets of poetry, heartbreak, and a solo dance with a cello that’s beautiful, sexy, comic and cool all rolled into one.

Also there’s politics, of course. I have absolutely no idea how the Sex Workers’ Opera will affect you if you don’t already agree with the argument the cast is putting forward: that sex work is work, and that decriminalisation of sex work is vital to protect the safety and rights of those who do it. I already agree, so I’m not the target market for persuasion. But even if you don’t agree then I’d urge you to go along – you might change your mind, you might not, but I’m confident you’ll have an awesome time and it will definitely give you lots to think about.

Get tickets for The Sex Workers’ Opera

The Sex Workers Opera is only running for the next 3 days (until Sunday 29th). Get a ticket super-quick if you want to go. And then nudge Pleasance to book them for a longer run, I guess? I’d be surprised if they don’t do more shows, and I really hope they do so I can take everyone I know.

No one paid me for this review, I just wanted to shout about it for the same reasons I email all my friends about a particularly good McFlurry flavour at McDonalds: because it’s good to share ace things.


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