(Philip Gostelow, 2018)
No, you’re not reading wrong. It’s a play about vibrators.
The Black Swan Theatre Company are putting on a fresh and new production of Sarah Ruhl’s masterful play about pleasure and the power of electricity and women, and more importantly, the invention of the vibrator.
The play, directed by Jeffrey Jay Fowler, stars Rebecca Davis, Stuart Salusz, Kingsley Judd, Tariro Mavondo, Jo Morris, Tom Stokes, and Alison van Reeken and follows Catherine Givings (Davis) and her scientist husband (Salusz) and the numerous personalities that enter their lives. Dr. Givings (Salusz) treats women (and men) suffering from ‘hysteria’ by using an oddly-familiar instrument to calm their nerves and anxieties. Through affairs, crying babies, and mishaps, including the meeting of star characters Sabrina Daldry (Morris) and Leo Irving (Tom Stokes), the audience is treated to a hilarious, heart-warming, and serious adventure full of twists and turns.
The play, which was nominated for a staggering three Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize, went over a treat with the audience in the Heath Ledger Theatre in Perth. With all the twisting and turning plots and subplots, everyone was on the edge of their seats, engaged and interested from the opening to the close. Laughter could be heard at every beat and kudos to the actors, who did a phenomenal job for not breaking and remaining serious and focused throughout the more humorous sections of the play.
The subject matter may have taken some getting used to, but there was a certain element of guilty pleasure to be felt throughout the audience. In saying that, if it’s not your kind of thing be warned, as suggestive themes and nudity is featured in the performance! It’s an interesting one, that’s for sure!
Beyond the living breathing performance, other elements of the show were vital to creating the atmosphere they were looking to achieve. From the costumes, beautiful fabrics and colours accurate to the time period (So. Many. Layers), to the set design, which struck me as soon as I entered the theatre, the simplicity and humbleness of the living room and the sterile nature of the operating theatre creating a nice contrast on the stage.
Certain elements of the play seemed to drag on a touch, leaving characters alone and task-less in one room while action went on in another. While the repetitive nature of the scenes was humorous on the onset of the action, some sections quickly became tiresome. In saying that, each scene usually had one change or alteration to separate one scene to another.
Overall, In the Next Room was a play full of laughs, silences, and confrontation, and shed some interesting light on the historical event that was the invention of women’s pleasure (the reactions given when someone dared to suggest pleasure could be given by a husband was particularly hilarious.)
In the Next Room will be running at the Heath Ledger Theatre in Perth until November 4th, so if you’re feeling at all anxious, stressed, or hysterical, grab your tickets while you still can!
Tickets and more information can be found here!