These two one-acts (A Decent Job and Closets Full of Juicy Plums) show a lot of courage for a woman author/director, insofar as they use extremely explicit sexual language and situations, although they're limited dramatically.
The show has its funny moments, though, and it is refreshing to see porn treated so lightheartedly. A Decent Job finds a rather endearing, horny banker (Kevin Mitchell Martin) who has hired three bored dancers (Amy Minty, Jes See Sutherland, and Michelle Wright) to tantalize him with their nipples, erect and promising, either clothed in silk or bare for his delectation. Most of the first part of this play is a paean by the banker to said nipples, in which he separately lists and discards other parts of the female anatomy as suitable objects for his lust. No, nipples he must have, and nipples he will pay for, all to the end of getting an erection and running off to the men's room to masturbate. This long chanting invocation of Aphrodite repeats itself several times, with the women swarming over him prior to his getting the necessary erection and running off ("The only exercise I get is when I run to the bathroom to masturbate"). The monolog takes on a minimalist air à la Phillip Glass, from time to time adding a new ingredient, like his pleasure in tasting his own cum. The play ends on a silly melodramatic note: the banker's wife invades his fantasy world with a gun, soon followed by two cops, who try to sort out who is doing what to whom.
Martin was especially good as the crazed banker, although his hair was too long and was slicked back in a D.A. The dancers wriggled seductively and got into a convincing catfight. Helene Johnson was convincing as the psychotically angry wife. David Aronson and Standing Bear had few opportunities as the two cops.
In Closets Full of Juicy Plums, Sharif passes from the world of masturbation to that of incest, while keeping her comic perspective. She posits a stepfather (Jerry Jaffe), his stepdaughter (Amy Minty, on book as a last-minute replacement), and a worried principal (Bina Sharif). In the first scene, man and girl rhapsodize over the power of his old, wise, rich cock and its attraction to her young, wet pussy, in the repetitive vein reserved for nipples in the first piece. In the second scene, the girl confesses to her principal that she is having sex with her stepfather; the principal confesses that she would give her life to have again such sexual experiences as the girl is enjoying. (The girl also describes the wonderful laxative powers of her stepfather's cock, as her continual trips to the girls' room have brought her to the principal's attention.) The principal has a wonderful monolog testifying to her desire for the stepfather's attentions. The last two scenes sink again into melodrama.
None of the actors showed any intensity of involvement with the others, but went through their monologs by rote. And surely an actress who had been hired long enough to get her name in the program could learn her one monolog, rather than have it played over the sound system.
Apart from their dramatic and theatrical limitations, these pieces explored the language of pornography in a challenging way. This is a poetry of primitive magic as seen by children, which imputes to the sexual organs of adults magical properties, even properties the opposite of those commonly accepted by medical science (for instance, that men peak sexually at age 17, women at 35. Also, from what primitive symbolic source comes the laxative power of the experienced penis?). (Lighting Designer, Stephen Petrilli.)
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Copyright 1997 John Chatterton