Henrietta's is a classic Fringe venue – tucked away down an alley, it's a room in the cellar of the Henry Austin. Get there early for a glass of wine; this is one of the later shows running at the venue, but it's absolutely worth a late(ish) night. (Come on, Adelaide, Fringe is only once a year.)
Nikki Spunde is a Melbourne-based performer who is known best for her work in various improv troupes, including The Improv Conspiracy and Soothplayers. Asexual Healing is her first solo show – an evening of storytelling with stand-up comedy vibes. It's a very personal show, and one that has undergone a few changes since it was first put on in Melbourne – as Spunde mentions in the first few minutes, it was originally performed when she was still presenting as a man.
If you don't know the first thing about asexuality, no fear. Spunde drily guides us through an informative presentation to catch us up, complete with coded playing cards and even a references list (here's a link if you'd like to read ahead). Asexuality, at least in Spunde's case, means not being interested in sex or romance, and she explores the ramifications of this in a world that, when you think about it, is absolutely obsessed with those things. The stories range from the more comic sides of trying to fall in line with societal expectations about sex and love, to the darker sides of our often-toxic sexually driven society.
She's brilliantly funny – the highlights of the show were when she went off-book, enlisting the audience to help her write a piece of erotic fiction. But the storytelling is powerful, too, and the moments of emotion and vulnerability were touching without being laboured – a tricky balance with this kind of show.
These are important stories to hear and Nikki Spunde's a wonderful person to hear them from.