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In the Next Room or the vibrator play

So, yesterday, I went to NYC for the day! I met up with givesmevoice and riot_cabaret, and we ended up seeing (after abortive attempts at Ragtime and Finian's Rainbow) In the Next Room.

And you know what? I'm glad we did. Because it was excellent. It takes place at the dawn of the electric age, and centers on a young mother and her husband, a doctor who treats hysteria patients through vibrator-induced "paroxysms". This sounds...questionably tasteful, but it's handled both politely and hilariously.

The play itself is excellent. But the true joy is in seeing what the actors do with the material. There are seven characters, but four of them are basically peripheral. The three at the centre of the story are Dr. Givings (Michael Cerveris), Mrs. Givings (Laura Benanti), and Mrs. Daldry (Maria Dizzia). And they are all excellent. Benanti is, of course, fabulous as Mrs. Givings. She's flighty, charming, and her line-readings are perfect. Cerveris is less flashy, but so is his part. He nails Dr. Givings' slightly distracted demeanour. And then there's Maria Dizzia.

Without question I am now a massive Maria Dizzia fan. Massive. Her Mrs. Daldry is basically perfect, alternating rapidly between girlish glee and dour tradition. She embodies the numerous contradictory emotions of the character, and manages to do it all believably and hilariously. We met her at the stagedoor afterward, and she was completely unrecognizable as the character. She became a different person onstage. (As a sidenote, we also met Benanti and Cerveris at stagedoor, who were both charming).

Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Quincy Tyler Bernstine as Elizabeth, Mrs. Givings' wetnurse. Her role is not at all a flashy one--for most of the show she remains a peripheral figure--but in the second act she has a long monologue which I found very powerful indeed, and which Ms. Bernstine delivers extremely well.

Bottom line: It's a very good play, well worth seeing. Student rush tickets, which we got, are also only $21, and resulted in (at least for us) quite good seats.

(xposted at Dreamwidth


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 31st, 2009 08:25 pm (UTC)
Lucky you getting to meet them afterwards!
This play sounds highly fascinating - glad to hear a good review of it. Sounds like a fantastic day :D
Jan. 2nd, 2010 03:37 am (UTC)
I just posted my review of it. I have to say that I've been thinking about the relationship between Mrs. Daldry and Annie since Wednesday; if it wasn't creepy and weird as hell, I'd ship them and write fic.
Jan. 2nd, 2010 04:42 pm (UTC)

Although, like, three other people in the world would understand it. It's a really interesting relationship, though! I'd've loved to see it explored further (though that would've pulled focus from Other Stuff, I suppose).
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )