“In The Next Room” Or “The Vibrator Play”: Review

If talking about the vibrator makes you tense, you can always focus on that hat!

The doctor's wife and a patient discuss the treatment

Photo: John Kinzer

Molly Casey as the doctor's wife, hears about the wonders of his treatment from a glowing patient played by Jacque Emord-Netzley

Event Information

In the Next Room or the vibrator play

A play by Sarah Ruhl.


Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Cente

October 21,22 and 25-28, 2011

IU Auditorium Box Office

Electrically produced orgasms can magically put the roses back in a repressed young woman’s cheeks and miraculously return the eyesight of a conflicted painter, but only offer a tantalizing hint about bridging the gap between romantic and physical love for a doctor and his wife in Sarah Ruhl’s In the Next Room or the vibrator play at the Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center.

The Glow

Jacque Emord-Netzley as the repressed young wife at first hid behind her veil, then screamed fetchingly during the treatments, and indeed did glow. As her husband, Adam St. John endeavored to glow in flirtation with the doctor’s wife, but couldn’t find the switch.

A Bit More Than ‘The Glow’

Jackson Goldberg as the conflicted painter got a bit more vigorous treatment. He more groaned than screamed, and with sight restored seemed to be a bit more feverish than glowing.

A Bit Less Than ‘The Glow’

Meanwhile, Clayton Gerrard played the stolid doctor who can cure others of their womb or prostate centered hysterias in the play’s ‘next room,’ but can’t see through to the connection of the physical and the romantic in his own marriage. Molly Casey was his tormented, physically full of health, but spiritually empty wife.
Patricia Millard as a wet nurse brought in to nourish their baby offered both an example of the powerful vital connection and a touching bit of spiritual insight. Hannah Kennedy, as the doctor’s nurse found a connection as well, but electronically it seems to be a short circuit.

Let’s Talk About The Hats!

When people describe In the Next Room, they’ll be nervous about the plot, but happy to talk the details. It’s is placed in what director Dale McFadden calls “Sarah Ruhl’s mythic 1880s. Dan Tracy’s wonderfully realized set is full of dark wood, overstuffed furniture and period pieces. Jason Orlenko’s lovely, fascinatingly complex and detailed costumes could put on a show all by themselves and they’d still be upstaged by the hats.
The overall effect of the play is hard to describe, it’s kind of like a really good graphic novel with a dramatically high finish, a potent combination that both involves and distances.

Love, Romance, Religion

The IU production is an accomplished one. The characters are always interesting. The dialog, which can get quite complex, is handled very well. The flow of the scenes even in the second act when the door bell rang so often that I thought I had to be at a farce is skillfully managed. There’s a good deal of fun and some thoughtful moments about love, romance and even religion.
In the Next Room continues in the evening through Saturday Oct 29th with an extra matinee on Saturday.
At the theatre for you, I’m George Walker.

George Walker

George Walker was born in Winchester, Virginia, and raised in Owl’s Head, Maine, and Valhalla, New York. After graduating from the University of Michigan, he came to Bloomington in 1966 and completed an M.A.T. degree in English at Indiana University. George began announcing for WFIU in 1967. Currently, along with regularly hosting classical music shows, he interviews artists in a wide variety of areas and reviews plays and operas. He’s the proud father of grown sons Ben Walker (and his wife Elise Katzif Walker) and Aaron Walker. In his time away from WFIU, George enjoys an active life with wife Carolyn Lipson-Walker, singing, reading, exercising and playing guitar.

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