Viewport width =
September 14, 2011 | by  | in Theatre |
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter

In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play)

In the Next Room, par ‘the vibrator play’, tracks the early days of said sex toy. The original steam-powered ‘Manipulator’ appeared in 1869 to a thriving entrepreneurial market of young doctors just coming to grips with modern science. The administration of…stimulation to the tender articles of one’s body…had been touted as an effective treatment for both men and women in everything from nausea to madness since the 18th century. Dr Givings is one such administrator and day in, day out, he goes at it with compassion and detachment; admirable qualities in a husband unless, of course, you’re his wife. Cue conflict: lonesome Catherine Givings, desperate for intimacy, unable to breastfeed her own child, wild eyed with everything to say on anything. The mysterious electrical device (developed some eleven years post The Manipulator), and its associated clientele, bring about a venerable thematic book of revelations.

Set against a landscape of ambiguous American accents, the performances occupy a fluctuating space between slap stick and domestic melodrama – pain and suffering is alienated by the repetitive physical accomplishments of the operating table. Emma Smith (as Catherine Givings) and Geoff Simmons (Dr Givings) both have moments of well earned laughter, but their emotive relationship is a jarring fabrication. The company appeared to be waiting on cues, a routine of going through the motions. The stage is engaged by an intricately established living room and workroom (separated by a door), a very tidy looking set of period-inspired furnishings including piano and lamps, but used little. The lighting changes often with mild effect, and is rarely synchronised with the sounds of electricity switching on and off.

But these criticisms cannot begin to compare to the flaws of the text itself. I am determined had every extended metaphor been removed from that play, whilst fifty percent of the material would be gone, the plot would continue to function admirably. In a likewise manner, had several of the characters and their subplots been removed, it should be observed that not only is the play shorter, the jokes funnier, and the cues sharper, but fundamentally the purpose of the work becomes more apparent.

In The Next Room or ‘The Vibrator Play’
By Sarah Ruhl
7 – 17 September at Gryphon Theatre

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter

About the Author ()

Comments (1)

Trackback URL / Comments RSS Feed

  1. Annie says:

    …darn… those Tony Awards always get it wrong, don’t they? :-}

Recent posts

  1. “Representation”: Victoria Rhodes-Carlin Is Running For Greater Wellington Regional Council
  2. The Community Without A Home: Queer Homeslessness in Aotearoa
  3. Pasifika Queer in Review
  4. The National Queer in Review
  5. Māori Queer in Review
  6. LGBTQI Project Report Update
  7. International Queer in Review
  8. Rostra’s Hot Takes – Queerlient
  9. Issue 14 – Queerlient
  10. Interview with Claudia Jardine

Editor's Pick

Burnt Honey

: First tutorial of the year. When I open the door, I underestimate my strength, thinking it to be all used up in my journey here. It swings open violently and I trip into the room where awkward gazes greet me. Frozen, my legs are lead and I’m stuck on display for too long. My ov

Do you know how to read? Sign up to our Newsletter!

* indicates required