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The Geneva Convention of Human F**ks Review

Reviewed by Jess Green
Disclaimer: ticket was gifted in return for an honest review 


I’ll begin frankly: from a female perspective, this play is unenjoyable and difficult to fathom. My overwhelming feeling throughout the hour and 10 minutes, was one of confused discomfort, and I am able to gleam little more depth on further reflection.

Promotional shot of the cast. Photo by Primrose Bigwood

Three women play three men, whose modus operandi within the story, is to visit varying European cities where prostitution is legal, to seek out brothels that allow increasingly sordid activities. 

Liam, Michael and Peter describe in violent, vulgar detail, including obnoxiously lewd actions, the horrifying things that they pay to do to the women they hire. The script is difficult to listen to at many points, with repeated mentions of violence, extreme misogyny and the rape of minors. It leaves no detail unshared, and wildly inappropriately calls the physical traits of audience members into the narrative, featuring them amongst the range of sex workers the men are choosing from.
To their credit, the actresses did their job marvellously within a limited story arc, and the direction ensured that despite the lack of set, the setting and context of each scene was always very clear. Estelle Buckridge, Cerys Phillips and Marina O’Shea really did manage to portray the beastliness of these men, particularly Cerys who I thought was magnificent in her anger, showing us that a man capable of dismissing the hiring of an underage girl for sex work, can somehow feel the emotional burden of a polar bear trapped by the impact of climate change. 
The problem is that we all know or have encountered men exactly like these supposed characters, and it’s terrifying enough that they exist in the real world without them being sold to us as entertainment too. This play manages to depict these crass personalities and vile acts, without managing to make any social commentary or political statement at all. In fact, I would go as far as to say that they have given platform and voice to one of the very few perspectives in society, that there is absolutely no benefit to sharing.

Promotional shot of the cast. Photo by Primrose Bigwood

The only saving grace, that prevents this play from being a brazen exhibition of misogyny, rape culture and chauvinism, is the fact that these men, are played by women. Without the gender bend element, the audience could easily have been on a train, unwillingly overhearing the vulgar conversation of a group of drunken men on their way home from a football match.


I think the concept has legs, but needs development to become a worthy piece of theatre – I would like to see this re-written to make “the point” that isn’t quite yet decipherable in the current script. What am I supposed to take away from this viewing? Is it commentary on the mistreatment of women, and in particular, sex-workers? Is it supposed to highlight the villain origin story of each man to explain how they became so willing to inflict violence on women and girls? Is the intention to highlight the existence of the manosphere? Is it meant to be a damnation of trafficking? Because any of these stories could have been developed into interesting, satisfying plot lines, but just weren’t.


I think it is admirable that Yet To Be chose to tackle such a contentious and heavy topic but I do feel that with such a choice comes a responsibility to get it right. And my gut, which remains nauseous at one of the last lines “in Africa, the age of consent is 11” tells me that in this case, they haven’t. The fact that #metoo is listed on the website as a trigger warning, but the repeated mention of rape of minors isn’t, I think would attest to the same conclusion.

The Geneva Convention of Human F**ks plays at Exeter’s Phoenix Theatre on September 14th, The Brewhouse in Taunton on September 22nd, The Wardrobe Theatre in Bristol on September 26th and 27th and The Theatre Shop, Clevedon on October 14th.

Promotional shot of the cast. Photo by Primrose Bigwood

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