The new play Loveplay has been described as a romp through 2,000 years of sexual desire. That description, however, makes the play’s director Roz Riley wince.

I really hate that word -˜romp’, she laughs. I hope people don’t come along expecting to see naked people dancing across the stage, because that will keep the people who would like it away, and the people who do come will be disappointed. I can imagine hearing that audience saying, -˜This is boring -“ they are still talking about sex, but not doing it.’

Loveplay opens at the TAP Gallery on 16 February and plays throughout the Mardi Gras Festival. The play, by Moira Buffini, was first staged in London in 2001 and at the Belvoir Street Theatre two years ago. The play tells of a trail of sexual encounters that occur over a 2,000-year period, all at the same spot in the middle of London.

The first scene is in 79AD, telling of a sexual assault by two Roman conquerors, and the final scene is in 2001, as two lesbians running a dating agency host a dinner party.

The succession of scenes in between explore how the dynamics of love and sex within a variety of encounters and relationships have either changed or stayed the same over the past two centuries.

It is a play about making connections and looking at the ways using the body has changed over time, Riley says.

Riley also directed last year’s MG Festival play, The Children’s Hour. In Loveplay six actors portray people exploring sex at various times in history. A scene set in Victorian times is between a painter and a vicar, who were formerly teenage lovers in their school days. The men have chosen different paths, but cross paths again when the painter offers to do a naked portrait of the clergyman.

The painter actually wants to paint the vicar as Lucifer just before he fell, and then discussion between the men turns into a seduction, but a lovely seduction, Riley says. This scene is probably the closest to real love we get to in the play.

Loveplay opens at the TAP Gallery on Thursday 16 February and plays until Saturday 4 March. Bookings on 9439 1906.

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