Debbie Bird’s Buzzing is a raw, honest account of sexuality in middle age. It is directed by Mark Farrelly and has been touring since its debut at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2019.

Fresh from an Ann Summers party, Julie downs a glass of white wine and lists all the men she’s been fantasising about. Her favourite barista, her odd-jobs man, anyone to distract her from her ex-husband – the only man she’s ever slept with. Julie’s candid and tender story of sexual empowerment has been assembled for us on stage with care and clearly comes from a place of truth.   

Julie’s world is created on the tiny stage at the King’s Arms using simple but slick lighting and costume changes. The scenes are well defined through these costume changes, and music plays to keep us entertained, but these moments last far too long and break the momentum that Bird builds throughout the scenes. The momentum is successfully rebuilt, and I understand that undressing and redressing in the dark wings is quite the task, but it seems like something that could have been tightened up during rehearsals. 

The pre-set table of sex toys is visible before Bird starts her performance, so it was clear from the beginning that this was going to be a comedy play. Buzzing undeniably delivers this, but sometimes it sways closer to a stand-up routine than a play. I know it’s an odd criticism, that the piece was too funny, but I found the stand-up parts far stronger than the ‘theatrical’ moments. The first scene, where Julie is taking us on a whistle-stop tour of her new toys is one of the strongest parts of the piece. Watching her slowly soften and find her confidence in talking about sex and pleasure is a real treat – I appreciated Julie’s journey far more than spending time with side characters monologuing. 

Buzzing is a compelling hour of theatre, a show that fearlessly explores the complexities of female sexuality in middle age. Bird’s masterful performance brings to life an empowering narrative, one that will certainly stay with me.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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