The Sex and Dope Show Saga


The Sex And Dope Show Saga by Tobias Maxwell

Jed Springs's high school production of the once controversial play The Children's Hour was a total success in late June 1997; the talk of the community for all the right reasons. But frustrated with America's puritanical roots and its skewed take on human sexuality—and goaded by his lover, Matt, to put up or shut up about it—Jed decides to workshop a radical idea, The Sex Show. By day, he teaches AP language courses and rehearses a production of Cabaret with his students. By night, his new play, The Sex Show, begins to take shape with a cast of fifteen eccentric LA actors. When Steve Paliri, a born-again Christian, is hired to helm Jefferson High School at the start of the new academic year, it becomes quite clear that the Christian right has gained a foothold. Jed and Matt's dream of growing old together, having children, and living happily ever after begins to crumble.

 From the improvisational to the absurd, The Sex and Dope Show Saga unwinds like a finely tuned timepiece, calibrated to explode at any minute. 

…This sprawling, surprising novel from Maxwell (author of Rafael Jerome) lives up to that heady promise, as Jed’s cast sheds inhibitions, reveals their sexual selves, and launches into searching improvised scenes together... But outside of rehearsals the real-world of 1997 rages on, upending Jed’s life—and demonstrating why committing to such a bold, impassioned project feels so urgent.
While much of the novel concerns Jed’s vividly drawn nightmares and complex close relationships, Maxwell pens strong, extended scenes of The Sex Show cast exploring, with welcome frankness, sexual desires, taboos, and hypocrisies, a liberating contrast to the situation Jed faces at school. The prose blends incisive observation, earnest outrage, and bright comic sparkle ... For all the laughs, though, a spirit of anxiety powers the book, as Jed and company continually face forces of repression. This provocative, hilarious, sometimes wrenching story’s second half gains momentum as America’s policing of sex and drugs inspires desperation, with several characters on the run—and discovering themselves.
The takeaway: a bold, funny novel of theater, sex, taboos, and American hypocrisy.
                                                                             BookLife Review Dec. 4, 2023