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The Coin-Operated Girl
Published on Saturday, 18 May 2013

Promotional Image

3 stars

Marlborough Theatre (venue website)
16-18 May, 9:15pm-10:15pm
Reviewed by Mathilda Gregory

 Warning: Contains strong language.
 Suitable for age 16+ only.

Miranda Kane’s show at the Marlborough theatre has a lot of fun with its premise, introducing itself, perkily, as the cheapest hour you’ll ever spend with a prostitute. Kane herself is wonderfully engaging as she bounces onto the stage, and brushes off a small audience with the patter that she is used to an audience of one. Despite the fact that she talks a lot about how her (previously 25 stone) body won her clients, who marveled in its bounteousness, I would reckon that her cheery, unshockable demeanor was the real secret to her £2,000-a-night success.

But Kane seems to have fallen into that young-person trap of believing that her generation invented sex. She’s supercool with her clients’ strange whims yet appears certain they will shock us. She warns us about things she might show us on her iPad screen – but they’re nothing more than pictures of lingerie-clad women or a few rude words. She tells us that old story about going through customs with a suitcase full of sex toys, as if customs officers haven’t seen that so many times before, it probably bores them. She behaves as if she’s revealing a hidden, secret world, but we’ve already been through this wardrobe before. We know.

Other parts of the show depend heavily on laughing at online prostitution adverts or the peccadilloes of her clients, which felt, to me, at odds with Kane’s anything-goes nature. It felt like Kane was saying we should accept her as just someone with a job she loved doing, but that it was fine to sneer at others.

Kane saves this show, though, with that effervescent likability. She’s very charismatic. Her closing moments are wonderful. There’s a brief ‘serious bit’ about sex workers’ rights, the differences between women like her and trafficked women, and the simple question that if you lived in a country where only other job option was working in a factory that might collapse on you, would you see sex work as such a terrible option? And then there’s the final, exuberantly performed, story. (Once again, the laughs did depend on us finding someone’s predilection ridiculous – it was quite ridiculous though.)

But because this show isn’t half as shocking as it thinks it is, it lacks something. If Kane’s job is no big deal, then this is just a collection of funny workplace stories, which isn’t quite enough. The show desperately needs to be more risky, more dirty (it’s really not as dirty as it thinks it is) or more sexy (it’s not sexy at all). For a show about a woman who made a proportion of her living crushing men with her enormous body, it lacked a certain heft.

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