The eight plays that comprise the evening gently entitled fuckplays may not be the most cohesive compendium to be found onstage, but is a great showcase for a variety of budding acting and writing talents.
fuckplays opened during a brief run at the Ohio Theatre and is currently performing the rest of its run at the Galapagos Art Space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. This festival of shorts was created by Working Man's Clothes/The Thursday Problem in association with Jeffrey Schulman as part of Soho Think Tank and Galapagos Evolve Series, and posed the theme of sex to several dozen writers around the country. This team chose eight winning responses to put together for their varying looks at sex - and what it means - in the modern age.
The results are a motley mix, but what most of the chosen playwrights have done is tried to see in what directions, the envelope of shocking sex acts can be pushed, rather than what has happened to the intimacy sex is supposed to affirm. Most are quite comic, if designed to make audience members squirm. Justin Cooper's "Wood" offers a satisfying twist early on and is smart enough to stick around before it wears off. Joshua Hill's "The Impotence of Being Ernest" revives the Oscar Wilde classic with homosexual innuendo (Adam Belvo and Charlie Wilson wear their period accents and costumes quite well). Eric Sanders "1.1 - 1.7" closes the show, and is good choice of send-off: though its "can you top that?" gross-outs benefit from a very taut production (Stephen Brackett directed) and the perfect delivery of stars Nell Mooney and Cole Wimpee.
Other selections veer off in ways that are alternately too dramatic or inert. William Charles Meny's "Candy Room" goes on for too long with too little occurring, and Bekah Brunstetter's "Marriage Play" is little more than a cutesy excuse to allow sausage and pasta consumption to stand in for sexual intercourse (actors Jared Culverhouse and Erin McCarson are a well-matched pair for this scene). The noir-ish "The Saddest Thing in the History of the World," by Obie-winner Kyle Jarrow only tangentially includes sex as part of its formulaic revenge story.
Two other entries in fuckplays will, I imagine, create split audience reactions. Greg Romero's dark "Sharpen My Dick," which ventures into the world of cybersex, is less gruesome than it sounds, but the lack of violent visuals is deceptive; it's the images that percolate in one's mind following that scene that haunt, and director Cole Wimpee, doing double duty during the evening, is to be commended. "Arms and the Octopus," an ambitious piece with both political and religious overtones by Casey Wimpee, is carefully directed by Isaac Byrne but may run a tad too long. Julian James Mohamed is a commanding presence throughout this scene.
fuckplays may run the gamut in terms of range, but overall, the evening is startlingly lacking in depth - of feeling and of meaning. Despite these eight mini-plays, there was a very limited amount of outrage and shock on the part of the audience. Is that a good or a bad thing?