A patron’s thoughts about In the Next Room, or the vibrator play

BAT is putting In the Next Room, or the vibrator play to bed. By every measure, it was Photo by Michael Brunk / nwlens.comvery successful.

Today we received the following email, that BAT is sharing, with permission:

 

Hi Maggie & Rochelle, Eric, and BAT,

Congratulations on your latest production, In the Next Room, or the vibrator play, by Sarah Ruhl.

I was very taken with this play, a comic meditation on love, longing and electricity, taking place in the waning years of nineteenth century America.

In this era, the wondrous power of electric current has been newly harnessed and is now available in a variety of applications: from brightly ¬†lighting rooms which had Photo by Michael Brunk / nwlens.compreviously known only flickering gas lamps, to providing medical relief to women (and men) suffering from symptoms of listlessness and “hysteria”. With the benefit of smug enlightenment, modern audiences may recognize that the latter ailment, in particular, was a common diagnosis applied to most any female behavior which did not fit acceptable cultural norms of the time. But that same enlightenment can be blinding, a means of safely distancing ourselves from the characters and their perspectives.

24601246933_2e48f6d155_z(1)The whole cast did a wonderful job of bridging that distance, of getting us to see their characters’ various searches for fulfillment as our own. (I’ve always thought of the term “period piece” as only a superficial description of a story’s setting, anyway: no matter where we go, we’re who we are.) The well-rounded ensemble includes Jessica Robins as Catherine Givens, an exuberant woman longing for love and expression in a world of Victorian restriction; and Wade Hicks as her husband, a rigorous man of science, who has found a means to make other people feel better but doesn’t know to emotionally connect with his own wife.

Electricity is an overt metaphor for modernity throughout the play: at one point Dr. Givens and Catherine literally debate the merits of direct vs. alternating current. (She prefers direct, as in “heart-to-heart”, while he sees alternating, with its implication of back-and-forth instability, as more relevant to her.) But the advancement that the characters might find bright and empowering isn’t just a technological one. Before the play is done, they are moved to be open and unshielded with one another, in every sense.

25201787076_abc8cac0ae_zWith its mature themes and subject matter, I can certainly imagine that this production matter was not to everyone’s taste…just as most works of theatre will not please everyone. But I can say, as a longtime theatergoer and patron, that I don’t need to experience theater that pleases everyone: in fact, it doesn’t even need to completely please me. Ideally, there will be some element of challenge, to my perspective, assumptions and viewpoint…some aspect of the art that pushes me out of my comfort zone and forces me to see the world a bit differently, even as I recognize some part of myself in the people on stage.

I came away from In the Next Room with those feelings; and that’s why I thought it was a great show.

Thanks–G

25201807476_48a5dbd3d2_zThis email and these two reviews B-Town Blog and WestSide Weekly are emblemmatic of the reception the production received.

In the midst of wonderful support and glowing emails, BAT did receive one email saying the play had no real story line, and the author of the email “knew everything that was to happen within the first 10 ten minutes of the play.” This view was a true outlier.

Considering the angst BAT went through deciding where or not to have nudity on its main 24860430919_ffbba168aa_zstage, nudity never came up in any of the written comments BAT received. (BAT has had nudity in Burlesque shows and some late-night performances, but not during a main stage show, in a very long time.) The audience support for In the Next Room, or the vibrator play, just goes to show that BAT’s patrons deserve much credit and are the cream-of-the-crop when it comes to theater goers! BAT’s audiences rock!

Thank you to all of those who worked on In the Next Room, or the vibrator play, and all of the patrons who saw, and became part of the show! Without each and everyone of you, BAT would go dark forever. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

 

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1 Response to A patron’s thoughts about In the Next Room, or the vibrator play

  1. Lance says:

    I just want to add that I am so proud and happy to see where BAT is headed. You folks have really taken huge strides forward. Not just with In the Next Room. You have shown our community the value of great theater, using quality local talent. You are embracing social media to better communicate. BAT has been a community jewel for decades. You are really polishing it to a lustrous shine.

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