Off-Off-Broadway Theater Review: DAUGHTERS OF THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION (WorkShop Theater)

by LindaAnn Loschiavo on September 23, 2014

in Theater-New York

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LOVE IS A MANY-SPLINTERED THING

It’s after dark in Westchester County in 1976. Do you know where your parents are?

Still under the spell of an ebullient consciousness raising meeting, two suburban Moms are sharing a joint and flirting.  Joyce Horowitz (Christine Verleny) explains the marijuana was a gift for her big 4-0; she’s a hip, confident woman, comfortable with exploring her sexuality, embracing the freedom of the era, and enjoying the privacy of having two children away at college, and her contractor husband in Pittsburgh on business. Joyce’s 30-something neighbor Judy Prescott (Laurie Schroeder) has not kissed a woman before, but she’s receptive to romance and adventure; her wild days of dropping acid (while touring with the Grateful Dead and being a Flower Child) are behind her, and her housewife humdrum includes an over-bearing psychiatrist husband, who plies her with prescription drugs and makes her see a therapist.

Michael Selkirk, Greg Oliver Bodine as Liam, Alyson Lange, Luke Hofmaier, Christine Verleny, and Laurie Schroeder in DAUGHTERS OF THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION (The WorkShop Theater Company) - photo by Gerry Goodstein

What’s next? Is this a lesbian coming-out drama or the pain of love under siege? Will the liberated lovers run off together?  Actually, what most concerns the playwright Dana Leslie Goldstein is how women of various ages have reconciled sexual freedom with their personal ethics.

The lovers’ interlude is interrupted by the phone ringing.  “Don’t answer it,” pleads Judy.  But Joyce’s insistence on getting to the phone reveals that her family is important and, naturally, the call will shatter the mood.

Laurie Schroeder and Christine Verleny in DAUGHTERS OF THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION (The WorkShop Theater Company) - photo by Gerry Goodstein

Calling from her Connecticut college is Stacia Horowitz (Alyson Lange), who announces that she is no longer a virgin. But Stacia’s sexual initiation has not come about in the romantic swoon of first love.  Instead, when her campus boyfriend Simon Davies (Luke Hofmaier) wants to leave and hang out with his friends, Stacia impulsively offers herself with an abrupt, “Let’s have sex!”  Manipulative, needy, unethical, fickle, a great self-mythologizer, and an incorrigible liar, Stacia is the most polarizing, whiny, unlikable, and best drawn character in this dark social comedy.

Luke Hofmaier and Alyson Lange in DAUGHTERS OF THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION (The WorkShop Theater Company) - photo by Gerry Goodstein

This ensemble cast does a fine job portraying these six middle-class East Coast characters whose motivations are never neatly parsed but whose words can be brilliantly playful or brutal.

Director Susanna Frazer keeps the pace brisk except when any character has to make an exit; then he or she will linger on the margins; it’s unclear if the actor is still in the scene, eavesdropping, or supposed to fade out. This becomes a bit distracting.

Michael Selkirk, Christine Verleny, Laurie Schroeder, and Greg Oliver Bodine in DAUGHTERS OF THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION (The WorkShop Theater Company) - photo by Gerry Goodstein

Set Designer Jennifer Varbalow’s attractive unit set resembles a 1970s living room with a bedroom space off to each side. Since the props in this living room don’t change, it’s a little confusing at first to figure out if you’re in the Horovitz’s home or the Prescott’s. But the bedroom’s props do change slightly, which helps define the space.

Daughters of the Sexual Revolution tends to focus more on the issue of ethics and personal responsibility than on the characters.  All the same, Goldstein shows a welcome reluctance to spell out every question her script raises, and this well-constructed play offers escalating tension and just enough humor to keep the audience thoroughly engaged.  The writing is even handed, cogent, and captivating.

Alyson Lange and Luke Hofmaier in DAUGHTERS OF THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION (The WorkShop Theater Company) - photo by Gerry Goodstein

photos by Gerry Goodstein

Daughters of the Sexual Revolution
The WorkShop Theater Company, 312 West 36th Street
Thurs at 7; Fri and Sat at 8; Sun at 3
scheduled to end on October 11, 2014
for tickets, call (866) 811-4111 or visit www.workshoptheater.org

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

LUCILLE September 30, 2014 at 10:18 am

LINDAANN:

YOU ARE TERRIFIC! THIS IS TOP NOTCH REVIEWING – CUTS TO THE CHASE – NEVER INJECTING PERSONAL EDITORIALIZING…YOU ARE SENSATIONAL!

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