profile of Eliza Goetze

My First Time goes off with a bang

       1. Are you:    Male ( )       Female ( )

2. Are you a virgin? ( ) Yes    ( ) No

If your answer to this question was No, continue to question #3.

If your answer was Yes, you have completed the survey.

I’m here for My First Time. No, not my actual first time, and ew, if you came here to read about that you should probably go to Vice.com or something.

My First Time, which has just finished its run at the Playhouse at Sydney Opera House this month, is a Broadway production directed by Jo Turner and written by Ken Davenport And People Just Like You.

The People Just Like You are some of the thousands of ordinary, anonymous girls, boys, men and women who committed stories of their own first sexual experiences – virginity or, in most cases, loss thereof – to MyFirstTime.com.

A website created back in 1998, when blogging was a mere twinkle in the internet’s eye, it’s a shrine to what for many is a rite of passage, a milestone, or a fond memory; and for some, a life-changing moment or even sacred experience.

Four Australian actors, Sharon Millerchip, Josef Ber, Annie Maynard and Kristian Schmid, retell a selection of the stories, some no longer than a sentence, others lasting minutes, portraying everyone from awkward teenagers, to old folks recalling their youth, to virgins, devoted or dejected.

The stories range from hilarious to heartbreaking.

A projector on the back of the stage flashes: Story #32175. Where It Happened: My Sister’s House. Story #4529. Where It Happened: The Wave Pool at Wet ‘n’ Wild. Story #26458. Where it happened: N/A (virgin).

The premise of the story – and the website – is “If you’ve done it, you probably remember it.” Blindly drunken disasters aside (and those are covered here too), they’re right, and it’s this fact that makes My First Time such a success.

The audience yelps with laughter, guffaw in disgust, gasps in dismay. There are cheeky elbow nudges, romantic heads on shoulders and quiet giggles of recognition as the tales of deflowerment flow, because there’s a little something in nearly every story that everyone can relate to.

And those anonymous virginity forms on our seats at the start? They became part of the play. Snippets of people’s stories – names (of the partner), ages, and locations, not to mention the responses to “If your first sexual partner was here right now, what would you say to him/her?” – were read back to the audience throughout the show as titters of recognition circled the room.

It was audience participation taken to a whole new and uncomfortably personal level. And you know it’s legit when there were a few question marks in the “names” and someone named the location of their first time as “in my bum”.

Perhaps the best thing was the cast’s genuine laughter and improvisation during those parts - they were having as much fun as their adoring audience.

Annie Maynard kicks off the show recounting an unexpected(ly pleasant) experience at a sleepover with her best (girl)friend (note: orgasm re-enactments are, as you would expect, par for the course, and Maynard does them very well).

Josef Ber is, by turns, hilarious as a boner-struck teenager on a suburban train, and revolting as a cocksure barman with a penchant for young, vulnerable girls.

Shannon Millerchip vaults brilliantly from probably two of the most heartwrenching and hysterical had-to-be-there scenes of the play, both incredibly bizarre in different ways: a girl who has one-off sympathetic sex with her terminally ill brother, and an old bird reminiscing about losing it to Dennis on the beach in 1963 and douching with Coca-Cola afterwards, “because it was the done thing”.

Kristian Schmid’s performance is moving and frequently adorable as a heartbroken ex-boyfriend of a date rape victim and a boy who discovers and celebrates his identity as a gay man thanks to an encounter with a handsome stranger.

That Turner and Davenport have gleaned such fast-paced, funny and powerful theatre from a site that, as you can imagine, is prone to abuse and tedium – and is probably only worth visiting for its cute pre-21st century layout – is a huge achievement.

And the cast’s enthusiasm and pure joy and, at times, pain was what really lifted it as a comedy and a drama.

For a First Time, it was pretty great – and at just over an hour and a half, it lasted about 89 minutes longer than most.

My First Time just wrapped up at The Sydney Opera House. 

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