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Onstage: In the Next Room, or The Vibrator Play

By Harper Lee · November 1st, 2011 · CityBeat Recommends
to do_vibrator play - carnegie -  (bottom, l to r) mary malloy (mrs. daldry), caroline shannon (mrs. givings), clare ward (annie); (standing) kristopher dean (dr. givings) - photo matt steffen(Bottom, Left to Right) Mary Malloy (Mrs. Daldry), Caroline Shannon (Mrs. Givings), Clare Ward (Annie); (Standing) Kristopher Dean (Dr. Givings) - Photo: Matt Steffen
Sarah Ruhl’s In the Next Room, or the vibrator play, now at Covington’s Carnegie Center in a production by the drama program at UC’s College-Conservatory of Music, has a current running through it. The production is warm, bright and slightly shocking. The story centers on two women, unhappy in marriage and deeply disappointed with sex. They seek remedies; one looks to relieve her loneliness and boredom, the other hopes to end her hysteria and reverse her unhappiness.

One is married to a doctor, a scientist enamored of electricity. He has invented an electrical machine that, when pressed against a certain body part, causes women to shudder, even scream then suddenly relax, free of anxiety and closer good health.

His effervescent and intuitive wife is desperate to try it, but he refuses. Instead, she watches, envious, as other women depart his office, euphoric and blushing.

Set in the parlor of a comfortable 1880s home, the production fits snugly in the Carnegie’s elegant theater. Lighting designer Gustavo Valdes’ lighting design paints the production with romantic, electric lamplight. The space has the breadth and depth of a large theater, and an inviting openness that feels intimate. Audience members can see an actor’s eyes widen or take a deep breath, small choices that add life to the characters and texture to the play.

In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play continues at The Carnegie through Nov. 20. Go here to read Harper Lee's full review.



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