Rosie Wilby’s show Is Monogamy Dead at the Edinburgh Fringe was an adventurous topic, and one with which I share an affinity. The comedian and Funny Women finalist tackles an issue at the pinnacle of the zeitgeist – the challenge to stay so dutiful to a long-term committed relationship in an era and culture which champions independence and adventure.
Many commentators and writers have tackled it (at least three books have become best-sellers this year for challenging the validity of monogamy – even the conservative Alain de Botton). But Wilby is the first to explore this theme with comedy. And what a brilliant job she did. I roared with a full belly laugh when she talked the audience through what would happen if gay couples could breed. Since most women prefer a taller partner and most men prefer a shorter partner, evolution would produce great big scary giant lesbians and dwarfy gay men.
No relationship is safe from her scrutiny. She caricatures the challenges of gay and straight couples, polyamorous and monogamous unions and the old and young. While the subject matter could have been awkward for the couples in the audience, their stifled chortles reflected the obvious self-recognition. I noticed many more walked in holding hands than did walking out.
It’s not easy to combine scientific research with gags but she handled it beautifully. By mixing a gentler ribbing of domestic drudgery, anecdotes from her own relationship and lively charts and graphs with the findings of various sex surveys, Rosie enlightens the audience to the ludicrous expectations of the modern monogamous relationship. May this show live on!
See rosiewilby.com for autumn/spring tour dates