Sex is a primal force. It’s something that affects every person at least once in their lives, even if it’s just as a result—as in the act of being born.
But sex is often a taboo subject, something that is not discussed in polite company. Except when Michael Disher and Ilene Beckerman get together, and then invite eight actors up on stage to talk about it in “Sex: What She’s Really Thinking.” Then, it’s no-holds-barred.
“Let’s face it, without sex, none of us would be here,” Mr. Disher, who co-wrote the play with Ms. Beckerman and also directed, said during a question and answer session after Thursday’s opening night performance at the Southampton Cultural Center.
The comedy, which the creators described as a “contemporary vaudeville” and “collaboratory experience,” is everything promised in the title. And then some.
The series of monologues, brief sketches and vignettes follows the same dramatic/plotting premise as “Love, Loss, and What I Wore,” a crowd-pleasing play written by Nora and Delia Ephron based on the 1995 book of the same name by Ms. Beckerman. Here, “Sex” humorously opens with “The Four Ages and Stages” of the title topic for women: Ages 13 to 18, Do you love me?; Ages 18 to 30, You know I will; Ages 30 to 50, You want me to WHAT?; and Age 50 plus, You again?
From the beginning, “Sex” is a roller-coaster thrill ride of laughs, informed by very sharp, tight, clever and funny writing. What makes the play even more enjoyably amazing is that Mr. Disher and Ms. Beckerman were still writing it up until the day before opening curtain. Bravo and brava.
I happen to know that the competition was tough to get to act in this show. With only six parts for women and two for men, many a local thespian clamored to participate in this ensemble cast. Those who deservedly made the cut were Bonnie Grice, Joan Lyons, Josephine Wallace, Danielle Shuman, Gina Surnicki, Amy Rowland, Tom Rosante and Matthew O’Connor.
There are so many standout moments in the delightful comedy, but space here on the page dictates the necessity of brevity, so I’ll briefly mention a few favorite moments, in no particular order.
Congratulations to Ms. Grice, whose dedication to her craft shows more and more each time she’s on stage. Her bit about the Led Zeppelin poster elicited my biggest out-and-out guffaw of the night on Thursday.
Ms. Shuman’s and Mr. Rosante’s bit about nerds trolling for human connection online was side-splittingly funny. I might’ve accidentally snorted.
Ms. Shuman also brought down the house with her remark, “The only man all women like is Santa Claus,” as did Mr. Rosante with, “You want us to be like you. Only with a wiener that works. When you want it to.”
True dat. Excellent insight.
Mr. O’Connor’s bits in “On the Couch with Zhivago” were hilarious. I loved his off-topic asides and facial expressions.
The demented fairy tales and naughty nursery rhymes in between bits, as told by a demurely dressed Ms. Rowland in girly pink, were absolute scene stealers.
And who can resist the droll and deadpan delivery of Ms. Lyons. Not me. She captures the “been there, done that, bought the tee-shirt” attitude perfectly.
As for Ms. Wallace, she is so good at investing in each individual character that she’s authentically believable, and funny to boot. Her accent work really stood out.
Ms. Surnicki’s best parts were diametrically opposed character types, which showed her range. She was flirty and fun with the feathered fans and equally entertaining as she delivered withering put-downs to would-be suitors.
The production was illustrated with Ms. Beckerman’s drawings, which were just darling. As a bonus, she performed a short monologue on opening night. And like with everything she does, it was incredible. What a treat.
Lastly, let’s put the spot on lighting designer Peter Eilenberg for a moment. It’s a thankless job, one that people notice only when the lights don’t work. Suffice to say, Mr. Eilenberg stayed in the shadows, in a good way.
Bottom line: I loved this show. I hope it achieves the success of “Love, Loss.” I think it can. After all, who doesn’t love “Sex?”
“Sex: What She’s Really Thinking” stages at the Levitas Center for the Arts at the Southampton Cultural Center through Sunday, January 26. Show times are Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $22 for adults, $20 for seniors on Fridays only and $12 for students under 21. For additional information and reservations, visit scc-arts.org or call 287-4377.