Review: ‘Is monogamy dead?’ And are polyamorous relationships the answer?

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Suhail Patel attended Rosie Wilby’s stand up show ‘Is Monogamy Dead?’, at the Canada Water Culture Space, and was surprised at how it changed his perception of polyamorous relationships.

Is Monogamy dead? Wounded, certainly, according to one Peckham based sex researcher. Rosie Wilby, musician and journalist turned comedian, performed a thought-provoking set at the Canada Water Culture Space last Friday as part of LGBT history month. Using somewhat scientific diagrams, surveys, and a whole lot of jokes, we explore the concept of relationships, breakups, and alternate interpretations of sexual identity.

The notion of a polyamorous household is certainly not new, but our more typical connotation of these kinds of relationships tends to be quite negative. However, what is often missed with this generalisation is the consensual, open relationships that are more common within the LGBT community. Rosie, having been inspired by a conversation with friends, decided the explore the idea in her new show, “Is Monogamy Dead”.

She said: “My friends all broke up from long term relationships and in many of those cases it was down to some kind of infidelity. I just thought it was a waste that all these long term relationships were breaking down. I started to wonder if there were better alternatives.”

After the success of her previous routine, The Science of Sex, a spoof lecture on sexuality, Rosie was well primed for this intriguing and sceptical look at the serial monogamist.

From giant lesbians to teeny tiny gay men, Rosie explores the reality of life as an openly gay Londoner, with lively humour and enthusiastic story telling. She pays particular attention to the differences between the sexes, comparing the life of gay women compared to their male counterparts. Are lesbians trying too hard to be monogamous? Is that what is leading to infidelity, and ultimately, catastrophic breakup?

“We are a relatively disenfranchised group,” she said. “You do get sexism and homophobia which means Lesbians are clinging to monogamy even more.”

Rosie uses her own sometimes tragic personal experience as a diving board for a more in-depth analysis of our beliefs and practices regarding relationships and sex. But she also combines history with humour to give us the big picture, regaling tales of John Harvey Kellogg’s strange views on abstinence, and incites the audience to take part in the process. She offered a cornflake to one unsuspecting audience member, who, to our surprise, found it to be a rather potent aphrodisiac.

So next time you’re partners not quite in the mood folks, I would recommend a hearty bowl of breakfast cereal.

Rosie’s peculiar wit had me smiling throughout the show, and she used her crude props to great effect. Hand drawn graphs, tables, and (somewhat) badly drawn doodles give the air of a classroom lecture gone horribly wrong. But there is reason behind the madness – Rosie subtly weaves in the science of relationships, comparing us to the sexually ravenous Bonobo, and looking at the way in which love tends to blossom and mature with time. In one instance, a woman is asked to graph the level of happiness in her current relationship, after which Rosie explains why these levels tend to peak and trough, and why many relationships ultimately don’t make it past the dreaded three year mark.

So while after the show I feel no closer to answering the original question posed by Rosie, I came home feeling somewhat more open minded about the concept of a polyamorous relationship.

While we may not be as promiscuous as our little monkey cousins, we do in fact have many loving relationships with a wide range of people throughout our lives.

If you’re looking for a good laugh, a stimulating night out, and want to learn more about the crazy world of polyamorous relationships, I would recommend a crash course with the very funny Rosie Wilby. Her next performances will be on March 19 at Cambridge CB2 and April 3 at Luton Hat Factory.

As with all reviews, the views contained herein do not necessarily reflect those of PinkNews.

Suhail Patel tweets at @Jimbobmurphypoo.

Update: This review previously used the word ‘polygamous’, but was amended at the author’s request to state ‘polyamorous’.