There’s not a weak link in the cast of Broken Sex Doll

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      Written and directed by Andy Thompson. Music by Anton Lipovetsky. A Virtual Stage production. At the Cultch’s Historic Theatre on Thursday, March 14. Continues until March 24

      Not everything works, but enough of the bits in Broken Sex Doll are buzzing away at full capacity to deliver plenty of pleasure.

      Writer Andy Thompson’s premise is built for outrageousness. In the year 2136, it’s possible to record sensory experiences, upload ’em, and sell them online. Of course, the hottest seller is sex: you can record yourself screwing your brains out and the people who download your experience will enjoy the same sensations you did—for a price.

      Daryl, the hero of Broken Sex Doll, becomes an Internet sensation when he records a session with Ginger 5000, a robot who has been implanted with the most up-to-date pleasure hardware. In other words, she has a magic vagina. To quote Daryl: “And the sparkling, popping thingy… What was that?” But King, Ginger’s jealous ex-boyfriend and former Internet costar, plots their downfall.

      The unabashed energy of Broken Sex Doll puts it on a fantastic roll early on, as members of the public download the video—“And now a sparkling thingy?”—and flop around like orgasmic fish. There’s also a great device in which Daryl, who has had some surgical upgrades of his own, discovers that he can no longer utter obscenities: “What the fuh…?” This gag runs so long that it stops being funny then gets funny again.

      Consummate comic Benjamin Elliott, who plays Daryl, exponentially increases the humour by matching deadly serious intention with physical and verbal absurdity. This guy is on his way to becoming a star. And Gili Roskies is subtly cybernetic and gorgeously husky-voiced as Ginger.

      Have I mentioned that Sex Doll is a musical? Composer Anton Lipovetsky has created songs that range from ballads to rap and rock ’n’ roll. The most musically satisfying is the complex “Dance of the Broken Sex Dolls”.

      There’s not a weak link in the 10-member cast. A Cirque du Soleil alumnus named Neezar, who plays King, is a particularly impressive rocker.

      Problems start to crop up in the second half of Act 1, as the giddiness wears off and a sometimes clunky plot takes over. The act doesn’t know when to end. And the characters’ relationships are never persuasively explored, so the story is a bit of a mechanical exercise.

      All of the sex robots are female, which is sexist. And in Daryl’s biggest trauma, he is anally penetrated, which results in erectile dysfunction. On opening night, the straight male stranger sitting next to me offered the view that this was homophobic. Bless you, Michael. And, for the record, anal insertion has never resulted in a limp dick—in my experience.




      Mar 15, 2013 at 2:51pm

      This confuses me because Mr. Thomas notes the rap song yet the entire preceding scene with the doctor where he explicitly discussed and then sang about how anal insertion was quite pleasurable, he should try it, and it was not known to cause erectile dysfunction.

      All the sex dolls are female hence sexist? I guess it's been awhile since Mr. Thomas had a look at the sex industry.

      Save for the last two paragraphs the review is spot on.


      Mar 15, 2013 at 2:57pm

      No Asian robots either. Was the show racist too?


      Mar 15, 2013 at 2:59pm

      No Asian robots either. Was the show racist too?

      No elderly or animal robots either. These ageism and anti-conservationist ideas should be shunned.

      In my experience? Unless your experiences have been rape, then I'm certain you'll find that being raped will cause intimacy issues.

      Freddy Mercury

      Mar 15, 2013 at 3:22pm

      Daryl is essentially raped AND electrocuted. In his anus. That is what causes the erectile dysfunction in the story. I don't understand the homophobic comment nor why the electrocution was omitted in the analysis.


      Mar 15, 2013 at 5:28pm

      I saw this show and the main character of Daryl is exploited sexually. As is The King. They are both "porn puppets" just like any female porn star. Furthermore, without revealing too much for anyone who hasn't seen this awesome show, this theater critic should reconsider what Daryl ultimately is made from. Is he not similar to the "sex dolls"? I think that important point has been missed in this review.


      Mar 15, 2013 at 9:08pm

      It's not sexist, it's the world that it was set in. The whole point was for the fem bots to break the cycle. But like they said in the play, if you can't be a playwright, become a critic.

      Nina J.

      Mar 16, 2013 at 10:40am

      How many aliases can Andy comment under


      Mar 16, 2013 at 11:06am

      Sounds like many of these comments are coming from people directly involved with the show. Why else would so much venom be spouted at the reviewer. He did not say he hated the show and that it was all homophobic. In fact the review is very positive. If the playwright is good he will take the constructive criticism and make the show even better. No cross casting, no older actors and a question as to whether or not some of the themes in this show are homophobic are all fair observation in an otherwise positive review. Chill out people.

      Colin Thomas GS

      Mar 18, 2013 at 10:46am

      Thanks for the comments, everybody. They've prompted me to think more about the last paragraph, and I've asked my editors to change it in the print version of the review.

      Here's how the new last paragraph will read (assuming there are no revisions); "In the original version of this review posted on the website, I argued that the show’s presentation of female sex robots is sexist, but online commentators have convinced me that I was wrong. Thanks for that. I’m sticking with another point that caused some fuss, though. In Daryl’s biggest trauma, he is anally violated. This might not feel homophobic if it weren’t such a common trope. But in Terminus, which I saw last week, Satan rapes the straight guy with his tail. And I’ve been noticing this negative framing of anal penetration since the movie Deliverance in 1972. Why does it always have to be rape? I’m here to tell ya: anal sex can be fun."

      Michael Gordon

      Mar 18, 2013 at 12:21pm

      I am the 'Michael' to whom Colin makes mention in the last paragraph in his original online review above. I'm also a psychotherapist, radio host, writer and also a creative professional, so I come to this as a member of the creative community.

      I think Colin is absolutely correct and fair in his critique of the piece, and the weak point in this story being a trope about male penetration/emasculation, in the larger context. And that bigger context is that the play is not so much overtly homophobic, but unapologetically heterosexist--and until the scene in contention, I had remained hopeful that it wasn't so; that the piece might reveal something subversive about the complexity of gender identity and desire.

      Alas, when the scene unfolded as a clumsy device to conclude the first Act, I felt a real let-down for an otherwise very entertaining and clever piece. I think it was also a lost opportunity to really open up the potential of the script/story. What if Darryl was penetrated *pleasurably, either by the King himself or with an object? What if this caused confusion about his sexual identity, prowess, and thus his lack of bonerfication for android whores (that's a whole other problem) Gay? Bisexual? If he is being penetrated, how does he reconcile his rising stardom as a hetero stud? There's a double-standard here: anal penetration is fine when straight guys are doing it to women (even in violent, objectified porn), but otherwise it is rape or perversion, thus the homophobia charge.

      In the end, questions about power in social dynamics are always uncomfortable, and while the play evokes a kind of 70s feminist (sexbot) consciousness, we've come a much longer way, baby. If the play was a revival of a 70s script, I could see the argument of 'much ado about nothing.' Ultimately, I hope the critique is less about shaming the piece, and more an, ahem, prod towards a more fully-realized exploration of sexuality and gender roles.

      My show can be found here: