USI Theatre presents: In the Next Room or the Vibrator play

Bobby Shipman

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The audience roars with laughter as a tall, thin man cries out in ecstasy.

He lays fetal on a black exam table clutching the cushion in unbearable pleasure.

A small, dim light bulb dangles accordingly above him flickering wildly.

The doctor, short and aged, stands behind the man administering the “treatment.”

“Hysteria is rare in a man, but of course he is an artist!” Dr. Givings said after electro-therapeutically massaging Leo Irving’s prostate.

Mass laughter resumes after one of many shockingly amusing scenes in USI theatre’s presentation of Sarah Ruhl’s “In the Next Room or the Vibrator play.”

Set in the 1890’s, the show centers on the then common belief that sex was meant for men to enjoy and women to endure.

In the play Dr. Givings, played by Craig Patterson, uses his electro-therapeutic massager to cure women, and the occasional man, of the condition “hysteria”.

In other words, he was helping sexually frustrated people masturbate.

The show delves into the lives of women as they explore their newfound sexuality.

Danielle Scott plays Catherine Givings, a new mother who must hire a wet nurse when her breasts fail to lactate and is forced to hear her husband pleasuring other women “medicinally” whilst feeling none herself.

Mrs. Daldry (Gwendolyn Snow), one of Dr. Givings repeat patients, hysterically climaxes several times throughout the show for an uncomfortably jubilant audience.

Although comically carnal, “In the Next Room…” also jabs at our softer sides with explorations into motherhood and the loss of child.

Elizabeth, played by Enjoli Drake, reluctantly nurses Mrs. Givings baby after her son passes from cholera revealing a sobering side of intimacy.

Other characters include Nolan Spinks as Leo Irving the artist, Taylor Kearschner as nurse Annie and Scott Cummings as Mr. Daldry.

The cast magnificently embodies their characters, and charms the audience with sharp quips about sexuality and touching scenes of motherhood and strife.

“In the Next Room or the Vibrator play,” shows again Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the Liberal Arts Center room 0105.

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