BWW Reviews: IT'S JUST SEX Will Make You Cry Through Your Laughter

It's Just Sex/written by Jeff Gould/directed by Rick Shaw /Secret Rose Theatre/thru October 26, 2014

In It's Just Sex, producer Rick Shaw has concocted the perfect cocktail for the main soiree of this piece; expertly blending one part-genius script of Jeff Gould; one part-firm and slick-paced directing by himself (Shaw); one part-clean, efficient, non-obtrusive production elements; and seven parts-talented troupe of actors. All combined to make you hysterically laugh, sympathetically 'awww,' and uncontrollably shed more than one tear in the course of 75 minutes.

Who would have thought a comedy about sex would involve such deeply serious and romantic relationship issues?

It's Just Sex opens with Phil and Amanda getting into some hot and heavy sex when Phil's wife Joan comes home. Awkward with a capital 'A'! Can there be anything worse than finding your spouse cheating in your home? Yes! Your partner doing it with a hooker! Joan proceeds to give Phil the silent treatment, but insists on going ahead with their previously planned cocktail party with their longtime friends, Kelly and Carl; and Lisa and Greg. This regular get-together takes an unique turn for the unexplored after Joan initiates a "tell the truth or take a shot" parlor game. What would you do if given the chance to wife-swap for an evening?

Claudia Graf manages to makes quite an impression with her few, but very athletic moments on stage as hooker Amanda. Reamy Hall wonderfully portrays Joan as a sharp, deeply wounded wife set on revenge, or payback (or something!) from her cheating husband whilst in the company of their old friends. Joan's biting comments throughout the evening all have hidden lethal meanings and pointed digs at Phil. John Colella's Phil's much more than a deer caught in the headlights. Colella convincingly explains his indiscretions, while expertly sidestepping the numerous verbal landmines Joan tosses. Who knew Vincent Spano, known for his many dramatic roles, possessed such good comic chops? Spano exhibits so much fun with his Carl, the New Age-y lothario of this group, who also happens to really love his wife. So very easy to see how Spano's Carl could fall in love and remain in love with Kelly as Betsy Russell embodies her, the gorgeous masseuse with her more traditional standards. As the more quiet, conservative(?) couple of the three, Stephanie Fredricks and Andy Hirsch as Lisa and Greg have the widest character arcs which they both handle deftly. Fredricks' bored Lisa urges/nags Hirsch's Greg to take charge, to be more spontaneous-all to unexpected results.

Each couple's pitch perfect in their individual interactions within, as well as, with their friendships with the other couples-close friends after all these years of child-raising, career ups-and-downs, and shared confidences.

Background soundtrack of top 40 songs greatly complement and provide the appropriate mood settings for the action onstage. The clean, uncomplicated living room set (designed by Shaw, Josh Iacovelli and Chris Winfield) feature three separate back wall panels; which when backlit, reveal the three couples silhouetted in their various sex couplings.

Playwright Gould's message: it can never be just sex. Consequences, hurt feelings, deceit somehow come into play. And then, there's actually love factoring in.

Delicious food for thought for your post-coital cigarette! A must-see!

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From This Author Gil Kaan

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