Mr Condom gets ready to roll

7th April 2006 at 01:00
Acting in front of friends can be embarrassing if you are a teenage boy.

Performing as a giant orange condom would seem even worse.

But nothing deters the young black actors in the Playas Klub who dress up as condoms and venereal diseases to spread the safe sex message to teenagers.

The all-male troupe, aged 16 to 21, have been taking risque educational sketches to colleges, youth centres and clinics in south London and are now planning to perform in schools.

Their characters includes the six-foot-tall Mr Condom, who begs his owner to take him along on dates. In his outfit of shiny puffa jacket-style material, he invites audience members to help him roll his costume down his body. Teenagers also dress up as sexually transmitted infections, and some wear removable patches to show how infections pass between people.

The Playas Klub is funded by Lambeth's teenage pregnancy unit and run by the arts group Noh Budget Films.

Tony Cealy, who set up the scheme, said teenage boys needed sex education as much as girls, and putting on sketches helped dispel myths about condoms and macho reluctance to use them.

The sketches have been developed by the teenagers, who rehearse once a week. Other characters include Sergeant Sex, a soldier with a uniform festooned with condoms. In a scene designed to make spectators squirm, one of the sergeant's troops whips a supposedly-used condom from his trousers that flies into the audience.

"It just contains a bit of milk, but it makes them jump," Mr Cealy said.

Mark Fearon, 21, devised Mr Condom two years ago and usually plays him. "He is a tough guy, a superhero," he said. "It was embarrassing the first time I put the costume on, but I've got used to it - that's the craft of drama."

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