Opening Night: “The Vibrator Play” comes to the Kitchen Theatre

Sarah Ruhl’s “In the Next Room“ is the next production from the Homecoming Players, and it opens this coming week at the Kitchen Theatre for just two nights.

The cast of "In the Next Room," opening this week. Photo by Amanda Stein provided.

The cast of “In the Next Room,” opening this week. Photo by Amanda Stein provided.

The play is also known as “The Vibrator Play,” and the New York Times called it “a true novelty: a sex comedy designed not for sniggering teenage boys—or grown men who wish they were still sniggering teenage boys—but for adults with open hearts and minds.”

The staged reading will run on just two nights, Monday, March 21st and Monday, March 28th at the Kitchen Theatre on West State Street, with showtimes at 7pm.

“We were originally going to do an all-woman production of Glengarry Glen Ross, with Amina Omari at the helm,” says artistic director Rachel Hockett. “Then we discovered David Mamet’s strict prohibition against altering the script as written in any way, so we asked Amina to make some suggestions for a substitute play, preferably by a woman or at the least featuring strong women characters.”

Ruhl’s play was a Pulitzer Prize finalist and a Tony Award nominee for best new play. “Ultimately the play is about intimacy,” the playwright said in a 2011 interview. “And I think in the age we live in, raw emotional intimacy is far more radical than physical intimacy or selling sex, which we see on every block. We see radical emotional intimacy far less frequently.”

This month’s production stars Judith Andrew, Jennifer Herzog, Eric Kincaid, Craig MacDonald, Katie Spallone, Jacob Garrett White, Sylvie Yntema, and Kit Wainer as the narrator. White, one of three Actors’ Equity Association members in the cast along with Herzog and MacDonald, returns after starring in last month’s “Deathtrap.”

“If you’ve ever been tempted to listen at the door to the startling and mystifying noises coming from the next room,” say production organizers, “now’s your chance to watch a hilarious and poignant play that’s brave enough to tackle the subject.”

Ruhl “was given a book by a friend called The Technology of Orgasm and was fascinated to learn that doctors used to treat hysterical women with vibrators, and before the invention, manually,” she told her 2011 interviewer. “I thought there might be a play in it.”

“In the Next Room” is part of the Kitchen Theatre’s Kitchen Sink series: It’s not produced by the Kitchen Theatre Company, but is part of a program funded by CFCU Community Credit Union that enables smaller theatre companies to put on productions throughout the year when the theatre isn’t being used for Kitchen productions. “For an itinerant company like ours, a steady artistic home like the Kitchen is a tremendous boon,” Hockett says. “We pay a reasonable rental fee to KTC for one dress/tech rehearsal, plus two performances, and KTC artistic interns stage- and house-manage our shows.”

Tickets are available at homecomingplayers.org/tickets, by phone at 607-272-0570, or at the Kitchen Theatre box office.

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