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“In the Next Room, or the vibrator play” at ACT | Arts Stage – Seattle Rage

“In the Next Room, or the vibrator play” at ACT

Sarah Ruhl is viewed by many as one of the most accomplished playwrights on the contemporary scene. She’s been awarded a generous Genius Award from the MacArthur Foundation and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. This play was nominated for a variety of Tony’s in 2010. So it pains to tell you I didn’t really like the vibrator play.

Oh yes, it’s very funny with the laughs coming at a rapid pace. The audience loved it the night I saw it, and I would guess many of you would like it too. It’s a sex comedy for the intelligentsia who delight in reading more depth into a work than the author provides.

For me it was a one trick pony. Give a woman a vibrator and watch her squirm in delight. Or shape it like a phallus and offer rear entry to a man for the same reaction. Others have commented on its exploration of male control over female lives, minds, and bodies. Some see within it a riff on lesbianism, as well as a brief history of female sexuality in the 19th C. And some even suggest it directs our attention to the remarkable advances made possible with the invention of electricity. I admit it touches on all of those things. But for me, it just wasn’t a cohesive piece of theatre that spoke to my mind as well as my erogenous zone. There were too many orgasms but too little satisfaction.

Though the play seemed flawed, I liked the ACT production. It’s lush. Staging is inventive, attractive and efficient. The acting is excellent, and the costumes and set work beautifully to evoke the upper-middle class late 19th Century environment into which the author thrusts us.

So, good production of a somewhat weak play. But remember, that’s a minority viewpoint,

Through August 28 at A Contemporary Theatre, 700 Union Street, Seattle, (206 292-7676 or www.acttheatre.org)

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