Endearing Tenderness

Review of In The Next Room, or the vibrator play @ ACT Theatre by Joyce R.


Now that I have your attention, let’s talk about the play In the Next Room.

Just the premise of the play sounds hilarious. This is a play about the creation of the first vibrator! Are you not laughing already? Are you not even a little curious as to what possible absurdities are going to occur? I know I was. With funny, smart, well-written dialogue, charming characters, and a touching story, playwright Sarah Ruhl (The Clean House– 2005 Pulitzer Finalist) will show you love, marriage, humor, loss, and sex.

Yes, sex.

This play is erotic enough that I wouldn’t want to take my parents, but at the same time in a sweet, innocent, romantic way, in a way that doesn’t make me squirm uncomfortably in my seat. I am also utterly won over with these quirky characters. Whether it be tactless, or awkward, or overly-analytical, the actors portray their characters wonderfully, and I fell in love with all their unique little idiosyncrasies. Especially the ever awkward Mr. Daldry (Michael Patten), jumping in at the worst times saying things like, “I like sausages.” And Dr. Givings (Jeff Cummings), talking about the weather whilst administering “treatment” on his patients’ nether-areas. And Mrs. Givings’ (Jennifer Sue Johnson) thoughtless comments on wanting to have “a few extra kids around” just in case one of them dies. And… heck, I like them all!

Jeff Cummings as Dr. Givings and Jennifer Sue Johnson as Mrs. Givings
Photo by Chris Bennion

This comedy had me laughing, but also surprised me with moments of solemnity, insight on life, and endearing tenderness. The time in the theater passed by quickly. The idea so absurd, the script so clever, I was thoroughly entertained the entire 2 hours and 15 minutes that the play ran.

Having only ever been to big productions at the Paramount of at 5th Avenue, I was also pleasantly surprised by the intimacy of the ACT, where the play is being shown. Additionally, the late-18th century set and costumes were gorgeous and very well suited for the play.

All in all, my first gut reaction after seeing this play is that I like it immensely. All the factors, the quirky, lovable characters, the beautiful set and costumes, the witty script, and the absurdity of the premise meshed together nicely, and unless you are touchy and embarrassed at even the thought of sex, I recommend all to go see this curious little play about the invention of the first vibrator.

Note: This play contains adult material and is recommended for ages 16+.

In the Next Room, or the vibrator play
Through August 28th
ACT Theatre

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