SBCC play ‘In the Next Room’ sparks hysteria as a comedy

The Channels Art Pages | EDITOR REVIEW

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MEGAN TONTI, Arts and Entertainment Editor

City College’s Theatre Group premiered an outstandingly hilarious performance of “In the Next Room or the vibrator play” Wednesday night in the Garvin Theatre.

Set in 1886, the visuals of the set were picturesque for the time period. The wallpaper with it’s floral design, the prim and proper piano and the uptight arm chairs all featured what a typical Victorian home would feel like.

In the next room, or the doctor’s office, was all sorts of mysterious. The setting was very old fashioned, but it featured two odd machines sitting in the corner. These machines were used as medical aids to treat women.

Playwright Sarah Ruhl did a marvelous job at explaining what the world was like not too long before our time.

The play introduced the use of the electric vibrator and its connection to “hysteria” to the audience very early on. This “treatment” was used to treat women who had been “hysterical” for one reason or another. In the play, women weren’t the only ones being treated.

Director Rick Mokler was brilliant with achieving the appropriate use of the vibrator and its connection to medical “treatment” rather than sexual pleasure. Although after a few sessions, a few of the characters started to see and feel the sexual connection.

Keeping it comfortable, everyone who was “treated” was fully dressed. To surprise, they were able to achieve this realism in every reenactment they did of treating “hysteria.”

It’s hard to grasp the thought of an electric vibrator being used as a medical “treatment.” It’s shocking to understand that only 100 years ago, this was exactly how it was thought; no sexual relations, no nothing.

The cast put on a superior performance and really connected well with each other. All of the relationships enacted had so much connection that it was hard to notice these relationships weren’t real.

The common theme that was seen throughout the play was love. How to love and being loved were constantly highlighted through each scene.

When someone had a heartbreak, that heartbreak was felt throughout the room. When there was laughter, the rest of the room laughed. It was a performance with a lot of feelings and emotion, but for the most part, it was hysterical.

The way each of the actors read their lines made it very light and quirky with some moments of seriousness when it came to relationships being questioned over love and sexual intimacy.

Blake Benlan, the only City College student casted in the play, did an exceptional job with his performance. His accent was that of an Englishman’s and he was suffering from hysteria as well, due to an untimely heartbreak. He played the part very well.

Overall, the cast did an excellent job at conveying a convincing performance.

“In the Next Room or the vibrator play” will continue to run through March 19 in the Garvin Theatre.

For showtimes and ticket prices see the Theatre Group’s box office page.