• Flora Gosling

Review: Phone Whore (BATS Theatre)

Updated: Jun 2

With any piece of theatre about sex, or in any way related to sex, the ever-present question is "how graphic?" or "how kinky?" it will be. When you find out said show consists solely of a woman delivering monologues from a chair and occasionally answering the phone, it sounds relatively tame. On the contrary, Cameryn Moore's "Phone Whore" is essentially built on testing its audience's stomach for explicit imagery.

Drawing on Moore's experience as a phone sex operator prior to becoming a playwright, performer, and sex activist, her solo show is forty-five minutes of monologues discussing sexual fantasies, and what it is like to entertain those fantasies for a living. She draws a clear distinction between the character she plays, Larissa, and the personas she adopts when on call; changing posture, voice, and facial expressions, reinforcing the performance aspect and glossy illusion of the encounters. In between, she appears casual and unconcerned, contrasting with the taboo-breaking conversations she is having over the phone that take the audience aback.

Moore's script contains interesting and well fleshed-out ideas and perspectives, as well as some savage comedy (for example being asked about what black men are like in bed, her response to which was cold and contained apathetically exact measurements). The bazaar nature of some of the kinks that feature in the piece certainly garner titters, not least from myself, but her insistence that "I'm not telling you so you can judge them...You can't argue with a turn on" is refreshingly transparent and thought-provoking. Larissa's character has a pleasing amount of depth, in spite of being a vehicle of sorts for taboo and potentially controversial discussion topics. Discussing her feelings being trapped as well as a sense of power that comes with being good at one's job, especially one of her nature, Larissa comes off as a character who is long past the point of embarrassment.

The narrative of the show is a rabbit hole of sexual fantasy. The performance opens with Moore, who chats casually with audience members out of character in the preamble, rushing to the phone and her cluttered stage of squashed cushions and stray mugs indicative of a slightly hermit-like lifestyle, and answering to a gentleman named Steven. Though it initially seems that all boundaries had already been crossed by the end of this call, the vanilla sex acts described pale in comparison to the darker fantasies later on. What starts as being naively funny becomes troubling, leaving you with a lasting question of the moral complexities in catering to taboo desires. Moore's show is certainly not for everyone, but for those open to a brutally honest look at sex and hidden fantasies, "Phone Whore" is comic and challenging in equal measures. Four stars.

Whispers from the crowd:

"I thought it took you on a journey, a dark and twisted one."

"It was comical, but oddly arousing. It was interesting to feel the audience dynamic, like, "is she really going to say that?"

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