A controversial theatre show aimed at children and families and featuring full-frontal adult nudity has been cancelled following a backlash over its content. The Family Sex Show, created by theatre company ThisEgg, was due to begin its run at the Tobacco Factory in Bristol in May.
It was billed as “a show for families about sex and relationships” that “imagines a future where there is no shame; but a celebration of difference, equality and liberation”.
Creators described it as “a fun and silly performance about the painfully awkward subject of sex, exploring names and functions, boundaries, consent, pleasure, queerness, sex, gender, and relationships”.
The show was recommended for children aged five and up and was accompanied by a glossary of sexual terms on The Family Show website.
The Tobacco Factory said the show had been cancelled “due to the unprecedented threats and abuse directed at our building and team”.
“We are sorry for the disappointment this causes to those who’ve booked. You will be contacted and refunds will be made available,” it said in a statement.
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A petition demanding the show’s cancellation criticised its inclusion of full-frontal nudity, references to self-pleasure, and the simulation of sex acts, despite being aimed at children. The petition has been signed by over 39,000 people.
“This is nothing more than a blatant and extremely concerning attempt to sexualise children prematurely and is abusive,” the petition read.
“The show aims to break down children’s natural boundaries and expose them to the content they are not sufficiently mature enough to handle.
“There is no difference between taking children to the Family Sex Show and taking them to a seedy peep show or strip club! It raises precisely the same safeguarding concerns.
“Children who exhibit precocious sexual knowledge are at increased risk of sexual abuse and vulnerable to sexual predators.
“It is a disgrace that taxpayers’ money has been spent on a production that scandalises and harms children and potentially places them at risk.”
Writing for this website, Dr Lisa Nolland, CEO of the Marriage Sex and Culture Group, London, said the show was “not remotely age-appropriate”.
“We want the best for children, including high quality, age-appropriate sex education, and the Family Sex Show is not it,” she said.
“Children are not mini-adults. They do not process sexual content as adults do. They are vulnerable to the massive downsides of sex which the creators of the show appear oblivious to. And they are vulnerable to abuse. This is unacceptable.”
Commenting on the show’s cancellation, she said it demonstrated that “petitions work”.
“As per usual, the BBC has presented a largely one-sided article on the cancellation of the Family Sex Show,” she said.
“Claims are made about the ‘unprecedented level of threats and abuse’, which may or may not be true.
“However, the varied and substantive concerns presented in Citizen Go’s petition, ‘Scrap the Family Sex Show’, and from other platforms, including this one, are almost completely ignored.
“To reiterate, we believe in good quality, age-appropriate sex education, which is one reason we are so opposed to the Family Sex Show.
“That over 39, 000 individuals signed this petition is deeply encouraging and indicates a huge concern for the welfare of children. Perhaps the next petition could be to ‘Scrap BBC Tax Funding’?”