‘In the Next Room (or the vibrator play)’ – More than one climax to this story

The playwright’s awkward tone is deliberate and may at times shock you, but this production manages to infuse it all with a rare energy and comic aplomb.

In Review

In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play

3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5 out of 5 stars - 'Sweet Stuff'
Directed by Kimberly Mohne Hll
Written by Sarah Ruhl
May 17, 2012 thru June 17, 2012
www.cltc.org
Review by

Thomas Edison’s practical application of electricity highlighted the end of the Victorian Period, and heralded the beginning of an era of relaxed social mores and feminine liberation. At least that’s the premise and backdrop of the curiously offbeat and sexually charged In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play.

Suffice it to say a pioneering inventor and scientist Dr. Givings, played more debonair than geeky by the talented Jeffrey Bracco, utilizes the new technology by employing experimental “devices” to provide a novel form of therapy to stimulate his depressed – and repressed – patients (see title of play).

His fixation on his work, however, is at the expense of his lonely wife who finds the traditional female role of devoted spouse and motherhood less than satisfying – and would love nothing more than to partake of the new treatment! Elissa Beth Stebbins  (Catherine Givings) evinces a comedic melancholy that is an uncanny display of acting skill.

The rest of the ensemble is equally polished and impressive, among them the beauteous and exceptionally versatile Sarah Moser (as enthusiastic patient Sabrina Daldry suffering from “hysteria”), who’s fresh on the heels of her magnificent turn as “Ophelia” in City Lights’ recent production of “Hamlet.” And company veteran Adam Magill also lights up the stage as the charismatic artiste Leo Irving.

The playwright’s awkward tone is deliberate and may at times shock you, but this production manages to infuse it all with a rare energy and comic aplomb. It’s highly recommended.

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Despite living in the South Bay, Greg’s heart remains in his hometown of San Francisco. When he’s not spending time attending local theatre, art exhibitions or the cinema, he practices law in San Jose. He likes to think of himself not as a “critic” but as an unabashed fan of the performing arts with an opinion that, he hopes, is worth sharing. His reviews can also be read at bayareacritic-at-large.blogspot.com which covers theatre venues throughout the Bay Area.