Sexodus: An Ecstatic Departure
By Cynthia Darling
With a name like “Sexodus,” it’s got to be good. At once comedy and straightforward sexual awakening how‑to guide, “Sexodus” by Mary‑Alice McNab immerses us in the rollicking, heartfelt story of how Ms. McNab found not only her true identity but also sexual fulfillment. This is the story of her path to freedom writ large, complete with a giant dildo and her very own orgasmic discoveries.
Just where does Moses come in? The show is replete with Moses figures, all of them influential friends and mentors who helped to lead Ms. McNab out of her repressive church upbringing. Each Moses delivers wisdom. When Ms. McNab dons the Moses wig, the effect is at once ludicrous and awesomely barrier‑breaking. Yes, depicting Moses simply by wearing a beard is ridiculous. But Ms. McNab’s ability to offer truths through the muffled hair‑in‑her teeth beard is visionary, especially in stark contrast to the proper and conservative dictums passed on from her religious upbringing.
Through the teachings of the church, Ms. McNab learned early to shut off her emotions and to become invisible. This was especially easy for the young Ms. McNab because of her church’s tendency to apply double standards of behavior and morality to women. In teaching us about the rules of the church, Ms. McNab’s voice veers toward the shrill and over‑enunciated, in order to show how these rules were delivered to her and other churchgoers. And yet, this was her home for many years before she made her first exodus out of the church.
Calling her church her very own gated community, Ms. McNab holds up a small jerry‑rigged white picket fence, demonstrating how very closed off she was. The props in Ms. McNab’s show are spare and makeshift, adding to a casual and humorous tone. Each exodus she experiences has Ms. McNab walking ceremoniously through a black curtain hanging from a rolling wardrobe rack.
Ms. McNab performs several priceless impressions of church members, showing her spot‑on skills for mimicry. These characters come to life in three‑dimensional clarity. She offers immediate translations of the church‑speak used to mask their insidious judgements; her translations reveal the lascivious and misogynist viewpoints.
It was in San Francisco that Ms. McNab truly blossomed. As she states, “The most mind‑blowing person who I had sex with in San Francisco was myself.”
May Alice calls for the entrance of a vibrator. And with that, she pulls a large dildo, packed in tissue paper, onstage. She proceeds to play with the object, many times bonking herself on the head with it. Because, why not?
Amidst such hilarity, Ms. McNab’s message is earnest as she gives audience members tips on how to get to know their sexual desires. She breaks it down: Step 1: Acknowledge that you have a body. Step 2: Accept your body. Step 3: Learn your body. Step 4: Please your body. At this point, Ms. McNab enters into an all‑out brilliant vocal imitation of the different sounds and speeds of a vibrator, mimicking the noises and motions of a now ecstatic Ms. McNab.
As the show progresses, Mary Alice’s persona becomes more and more free, a breath of fresh air. She emphasizes all the right words and moments of emotional release, sometimes marching around the stage, sometimes yelling, sometimes drawing out her pronunciation of words for full effect. By the end, we all want to walk through that exodus curtain.
It is perhaps a bit shocking, then, that one of the show’s great takeaways is the thrill and salvation of scheduled sex. This is certainly not something I would expect to take away from a one‑woman‑show about sexual liberation. But that is perhaps one of the show’s most admirable qualities. When Ms. McNab does arrive at the happy state of a loving marriage and encounters the possibility of humdrum or even non‑existent sex, she does not take the road she has taken for much of her young adult life: running away and breaking into exodus.
Instead, she embraces this stage. She and her husband experiment with scheduled sex. And she proclaims the joys of it. It brings the couple together, giving them something to look forward to. And, sex begets sex, as she states.
Ms. McNab ends the show with a grand statement about exodus as a metaphor for any kind of awakening, not just sexual. As much as I admired her desire to give every audience member the exodus metaphor to use as needed in their own life, the gesture felt unneeded. This is a show about sex, pure and simple. It is, quite simply, a revolutionary—and stimulating—journey to the Promised Land.