In the Next Room (or the vibrator play)

Playwright Sarah Ruhl’s In the Next Room (or the vibrator play) is more than just a play with a titillating hook. “It’s an examination of intimacy and roles between men and women,” says Leslie Swackhamer, who is directing Room at Stages Repertory Theatre. “It’s a play of ideas, it’s a play of language and it’s a play of heart.”

It’s set in the 1880s. Electricity and the just-invented lightbulb are all the rage, and sexually frustrated women are treated for their “hysteria” by doctors armed with vibrators to release the women’s tensions. “The idea of a woman expressing desire and owning it is still very threatening to men…It’s so timely.” Ruhl’s play is far from a hardline, ponderous treatise, Swackhamer says.

“The thing I love about this play is there’s a lot of depth to it, but it’s also delightful and funny and beautiful.” Swackhamer, who in an earlier incarnation was a lawyer but decided she loved the theater far more, specializes in new plays, and although this one isn’t new-new, it’s still newish to a lot of audiences, she says. Besides which, she thinks that “Sarah Ruhl is one of the most interesting, exciting playwrights working today,” and this is the first time she’s gotten to direct a play written by a winner of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Swackhamer is the executive director of that prize awarded to outstanding female playwrights. She was glad to do this at Stages, she says, because the theater is so intimate and she knows “all of the production values the play demands will be served.”

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Stages Repertory Theatre

3201 Allen Parkway
Houston, TX 77019

Category: Performing Arts Venues

Region: River Oaks

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7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. Through April 8. 3201 Allen Parkway. For information, call 713-527-0123 or visit www.stagestheatre.com. $19 to $45.
Wednesdays-Sundays. Starts: March 14. Continues through April 8, 2012

 
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