Review: Gulfshore Playhouse work sends out comic, cathartic vibes

You spend the first 15 minutes of “In the Next Room, or The Vibrator Play,” praying everyone’s façades will crack before you die of chipperness.

They do, blessedly, and that’s when this story of Victorian mores and suppressed intimacy at Gulfshore Playhouse begins to shoot sparks. The purring is there to set premise: Sarah Ruhl’s play, as do most at Gulfshore Playhouse, works on multiple levels to explore love, intimacy, gender stereotypes and racism.

The play occasionally loses us in conclusions that seem to strike out of the blue, such as a relationship between the baby’s nurse and a patient. But “The Vibrator Play” plumbs endless potential, both hilarious and heartbreaking, from the starched realities of the Gilded Age.

That potential evolves through the title device: a simple vibrator powered by – electricity! It’s the latest and greatest of the inventions to thrill the Victorian age and figures into this emotionally backward group’s certainty they’re as progressive as can be. Characters turn lights on; they turn them off — just because they can.

 

Harriet Howard Heithaus
Naples Daily News

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