Rep’s “In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play” is a Titillating Victorian Sex Comedy

By now, we know that good vibrations are, well, good. But back in the Victorian times, vibrations were seen as the only cure for “hysteria,” a medical term for anxiety. The prescribed cure? A trip to the doctor, who will administer the newly-invented vibrator to induce paroxysms… or orgasms. It’s the foreplay to Repertory Philippines’ In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play, a Victorian sex comedy that explores intimacy, passion, and love.

In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play examines the marriage of Dr. Givings and Mrs. Givings. They are in a loving relationship but the marriage is cold, as Dr. Givings is fixated on his invention, a large contraption that is meant to give orgasms to women suffering from hysteria. Mrs. Givings doesn’t know what’s going on since the procedure is done in the next room, or the doctor’s “operating theater.” She is increasingly intrigued when one of his patients, Mrs. Daldry, become increasingly happy, and she wonders if she should avail of the treatment to save her marriage.

The play was written by Sarah Ruhl in 2009, and was met with critical acclaim when it premiered. It was nominated for three Tony Awards, and the New York Times called it “spirited and stimulating.” In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play is Repertory Philippines’ latest offering, and it offers new thoughts on love while providing a pleasurable experience.

Repertory’s adaptation works well because of the chemistry between the actors. New York-based actor and returning Repper Joshua Spafford gave an impressive performance as Dr. Givings, who plays the cold and scientific doctor to perfection. My favorite scene is when he tries to express his love for Mrs. Givings in the only way he knows how, which I’ll let you discover for yourself. I also enjoyed watching Giannina Ocampo as Mrs. Givings, the innocent soul yearning to break free from the strict rules of polite society.

However, my favorite actor is Caisa Borromeo as Mrs. Daldry, whose character development is triggered by her frequent trips to the operating theater. Borromeo is amazing, as usual, and let’s just say the audience was a lively one when she was “in the other room.”

I love stories set in this era. One of my favorite books, The Picture of Dorian Gray, was written in the Victorian era (though it was written by Oscar Wilde, an Irishman). Marquis de Sade wrote the controversial books The 120 Days of Sodom and Philosophy in the Boudoir in the Georgian era (this one in France), which preceded the Victorian era. While these books were written outside the United Kingdom, they tie with In the Next Room‘s theme of debauchery simmering below proper decorum.

For this play’s viewers, I’m almost sure that the images that will be talked about are the scenes set in the next room (and that shocking climax), but I implore everyone to go past these scenes and go to the story’s heart: electricity sure has changed the world, but when it comes to love, the only electricity you need is the one that comes from the inside.

Repertory Philippines’ In the Next Room or Vibrator Play will be staged at Onstage Theater, at the 2nd Floor, Greenbelt 1, Paseo de Roxas corner Legazpi Street Makati City, from March 24 to April 23, 2017. For inquiries, you may call Rep at 843-3570, and Ticketworld at 891-9999 or log on to www.ticketworld.com.ph. For updates and show schedules, log on to www.repertoryphilippines.ph. You may also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Photos provided by Repertory Philippines

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