In The Next Room or The Vibrator Play | Black Swan State Theatre Company

In The Next Room or The Vibrator Play | Black Swan State Theatre CompanyLeft – Rebecca Davis, Jo Morris and Stuart Halusz. Cover – Rebecca Davis, Tariro Mavondo and Jo Morris. Photos – Philip Gostelow

Sarah Ruhl recreates a peculiar period in the early history of psychotherapy.

Set in the 1880s just after the advent of electricity, the play is set in the adjoining parlour and consulting rooms of Dr Givings (Stuart Halusz). Dr Givings assisted by his nurse (Alison van Reeken) specialises in treating “hysteria” in female patients.

The medico is capable but brusque of manner, however he is pleased at the discovery of a mechanical device which he can use to great effect on his patients. So taken at the results of this treatment Givings fails to notice his wife (Rebecca Davis) is feeling neglected as she struggles with new motherhood. To further her anxiety the Doctor will not reveal the goings on in his surgery.

The charm of this work lies in the grab bag of eccentric characters Ruhl has drawn together and this in turn allows the actors to create wonderful bits of business with which to embellish their roles; Dr Givings’ rigid posture and severe deadpan expression, his wife’s fluttery hands and tendency to babble.

Initially Dr Givings uses vibrator therapy on Mrs Daltry (Jo Morris) who suffers from “paroxisms”, leaving Mr Daltry (Kingsly Judd) to take a turn around the grounds with Catherine Givings. Events take a turn when the doctor successfully uses the therapeutic device on a man Mr Leo Irving (Tom Stokes) an artist. Mrs Givings befriends Mrs Daltry and the secrecy surrounding the vibrator therapy is broken.

Mrs Givings is unable to supply her baby with enough milk, probably her nerves at work here, so a wet nurse (Tariro Mavondo) is procured. It is she who enlightens the two ladies as to the nature of truly successful marital relations. Finally Mrs Givings desperately entreats her husband to try the treatment on her and the results are felicitous.

Director Jeffrey Jay Fowler has done a splendid job with an excellent cast and an overly long script that almost turns into melodrama at times. The pace is speedy.

Mention must be made of the wonderful set and sublime costuming created by Alicia Clements, Ash Gibson Greig’s pulsing sound effects and music and Lucy Birkinhead’s clever lamps and lighting. Voice coach Luzita Fereday has managed to get the entire cast speaking in the same soft well educated New York accent.

In the Next Room runs until 4 November 2018.

Black Swan State Theatre Company presents
In The Next Room or The Vibrator Play
by Sarah Ruhl

Director Jeffrey Jay Fowler

Venue: Heath Ledger Theatre | cnr William Street and Roe Street, Perth WA
Dates: 20 Oct — 4 Nov 2018
Bookings: www.bsstc.com.au

 

 

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In The Next Room or The Vibrator Play | Black Swan State Theatre Company

Sarah Ruhl recreates a peculiar period in the early history of psychotherapy.


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