In the Next Room offers a stimulating experiencecsudhbulletin April 11, 2018 0 COMMENTS
By Jesse Garcia
The amiable manifestation of satisfaction and lack thereof is a recurring theme in playwright Sarah Ruhl’s “In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play,” which explores the early days of an electrifying stimulant.
Ruhl’s strikingly funny play, first staged in 2009 and which is currently playing at California State University, Dominguez Hills’ University Theatre through April 15, seamlessly makes the fortunate female characters experiencing orgasms and the one male character getting tickled laughable under the guidance of director Shonni Holmes.
The play is set in the 1880s when electricity was mainly used for streetlights—and a certain servicing wooden box created by the aptly named Dr. Givings (Andre P. Brown).
The box’s purpose is to cure the depression struck females medically diagnosed with what the mostly male-dominated profession of medicine liked to call “hysteria.”
With sensationally witty dialogue and cast that delivers spot-on comedic timing, “the Vibrator Play” makes orgasms and the ignorance of their existence hysterically funny.
As the audience follows the treatment provided by Dr. Givings and the sexual pleasures he perceives as a release of toxic fluids caused by depression, they will find themselves gasping followed by uncontrollable laughter.
Taking place in New York City, circa 1890, the set captures the time by placing a wooden piano, vintage lights, and a baby stroller that adequately appropriates the time-period. And no play set in the Victorian era would be complete without the vibrantly elegant dresses worn by the female characters.
As the play progresses the audience witnesses the patients undergo treatment, each with their own pleasurable experience with the vibrator. One of those patients is Mrs. Daldry (Rebecca Lopez) a lucky female who receives what seems like daily orgasms.
The cast uniformly shines as they humorously entertain with every situation created. A special mention must be given to the actors who play Mrs. Givings (Brielle Jones) and Leo Irving (Ryan Gatus) as their quirky and unfiltered voices are naturally believable while also capturing the audience’s attention with every movement.
The pleasurable scene created by Holmes that had Mrs. Daldry and Mrs. Givings taking turns with the vibrator is raunchy comedy at its finest. It will make you chuckle, giggle, and then burst out laughing.
Additionally, the play also features the patriarchal ignorance of female desires that adds to the situational entertainment experienced in “The Vibrator Play.”
The characters are witty, the one-line jokes are funny, and while the play will have you entertained it has its faults: such as the one-dimensional male characters, the poorly painted diplomas on Mr. Giving’s operating room and a truly enticing moment to take the play from good to exceptional.
But the actor’s commitment to bring believability to their characters make the severity of these things dwindle. Ruhl’s play and Holmes production is energetic, amusing and comically well done.
In The Next Room, Or The Vibrator Play. University Theatre, 1000 E Victoria St, Carson, (310) 243-3588; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.$10-$15. www.csudh.edu/theatre-arts/university-theatre