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Theatre Review: Holy & Horny @ Dugdale Centre, London

10th November 2015

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The controversial relationship between sexuality and the church is explored without fear in Holy & Horny, the 80-minute one-woman play by Tonya Joy Bolton that is about to come to the end of its UK tour.

There’s no doubt that Tonya – writer, actor, motivational speaker and “empowerment specialist” – has achieved a lot here, taking on a wide array of different characters (20 in total) throughout, playing everyone from a sexually liberated poet to a hypocritical minister’s son to our meek protagonist’s outspoken Brixton-esque cousin.

The characters are distinct, without exception, and although the characterisation is hugely physical (and vocal) it doesn’t really feel stereotypical or overdone.

As might be expected it’s our protagonist, Sheila, that is often the persona that we feel the most empathy with. More than once, watching her naively hopeful journey, we feel a sense of foreboding. The positivity, though, shines through – this is black humour and doesn’t meander into the melodramatic.

The least successful aspect of the play is the spoken word poetry that is brought about when Tonya moves into the persona of Eve, a poet whose eloquence sets her as the voice of reason against a backdrop of an increasingly confused cast of characters. Although the strong, in control character is a much-needed contrast to Sheila’s dithery youthfulness and the drama of her life, the character of Eve feels out of place within the play and her separation from the events leaves more than a bit of confusion.  

Holy & Horny doesn’t shy away from horrifying moments, and certainly isn’t afraid of critiquing the church – and it is this that has seen it receive a hugely positive reaction with audiences across the UK.

Tonya was at the Dugdale Centre in North London last month as part of her Farewell UK Tour 2015. It’s the last time the play will be seen in the UK; its last date before Holy & Horny heads to the USA will be in Wolverhampton on the 14th November.  

Holy & Horny’s last UK performance takes place on Saturday 14th November at the Newhampton Arts Centre, Wolverhampton. Get tickets here.

Tonya will then be taking Holy & Horny on a tour of the USA. Find more information:

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