Love, loneliness and vibrators star in play In the Next Room

In The Next Room (or The Vibrator Play)

To Aug. 17 | Jericho Arts Centre

Tickets and info: $25-$30, ensembletheatrecompany.ca

“I’ll have what she’s having.”

That famous line from the 1989 film When Harry Met Sally, spoken by a woman in the restaurant where Meg Ryan has just loudly faked an orgasm for Billy Crystal’s benefit, could be the subtitle for Sarah Ruhl’s play, In the Next Room.

The Vancouver premiere of Ruhl’s 2010 Tony-nominated comic drama opens Ensemble Theatre Company’s fifth annual festival of three plays in repertory at Jericho Arts Centre.

Ruhl’s title refers to the examining room where Dr. Givings, an 1880s American gynaecologist, treats his female patients for hysteria with a newfangled electrical device that brings them to “paroxysm” while his lonely wife, in the adjacent drawing room, listens with longing and jealousy to their cries of “oh God!”

Ruhl’s subtitle is explicit: The Vibrator Play. But the vibrator is only an inadvertent means in the play for women to derive sexual pleasure in an era when female desire and sexuality were taboo, even within marriage.

Ensemble director Keltie Forsyth has mixed success with a script that works up to a series of rousing comic climaxes only to lose momentum around the halfway mark and stumble towards a half-hearted dramatic resolution.

In the Next Room cast members, from left, Mariam Barry (Elizabeth), Lindsay Nelson (Mrs. Givings), in background Christine Reinfort (Mrs. Daldry), and Alexis Kellum-Creer (Annie). SUPPLIED. For 0720 theatre review in the next room [PNG Merlin Archive]
Javier Sotres, PNG

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From left, Mariam Barry (Elizabeth), Lindsay Nelson (Mrs. Givings), in background Christine Reinfort (Mrs. Daldry), and Alexis Kellum-Creer (Annie).

Mrs. Givings, played movingly by Lindsay Nelson, is a mess. Not only is her physician husband (Sebastian Kroon) more interested in the science of electricity than in her, but she doesn’t even have enough breast milk to feed her newborn. The wet nurse they hire, Elizabeth (powerfully stolid Mariam Barry), whose own baby has died, only makes her feel more inadequate.

When Mrs. Daldry (Christine Reinfort), another neglected wife, has a series of Meg Ryan-like paroxysms in response to the doctor’s treatment, Mrs. Givings, overhearing, wants what she’s having. For a while, in an exciting conspiracy of women, those two wives along with the doctor’s assistant, Annie (Alexis Kellum-Creer), seem about to seize the

Source:: Vancouver Sun – Entertainment

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