IN THE NEXT ROOM, OR THE VIBRATOR PLAY Comes to The Court Theatre
A low buzzing sound can be heard at The Court Theatre as the cast and crew prepare for the arrival of the theatre's latest production, In the Next Room, or the vibrator play.
Set in a time before the vacuum cleaner or the television - but not the vibrator - In the Next Room, or the vibrator play was written in 2009, but takes place in the 1880s: a period of corsets, industrialisation and the dawn of women's liberation. The scene for the play is a household split into two; one room showing Dr Givings' surgery and the other showing his wife Catherine's domain, the living room, which doubles as a patients' waiting room.
The door between the two is locked and as Catherine wonders exactly what her husband is doing in the other room, she begins to consider what it means to be a woman, a wife and a mother in Victorian times - and whether or not the life she has is actually the one she wants.
In the mysterious, other room, Dr Givings is using his new device, the Chattanooga vibrator, to treat patients of the now defunct medical condition hysteria. The patients that he brings into their home open Catherine's eyes to the outside world and introduce her to a community of women whom she forges a life-changing connection with.
Former Associate Director of The Court, Melanie Luckman, is returning to the theatre to direct the play and is quick to say that the show, nominated for three Tony Awards in 2010, is, "not about porn. It's not about cheap thrills. Is it about sexual pleasure? Yup. And it's also incredibly smart and funny. It has heart and integrity... As well as being about vibrators."
Stepping back into the 19th Century - and into a series of complicated costumes - is a cast equipped to juggle both the humour of the script and its more serious moments, including Amy Straker; Hannah Wheeler; Jonathan Martin; Eilish Moran; Fergus Inder; Bianca Seinafo and Matt Hudson.
Luckman, as a wife and mother herself, felt a specific connection to the script and thinks modern audiences will too.
"The struggles the characters have with motherhood are still hugely relevant today, particularly the isolation and the expectation to provide everything for everyone. I think that isolation of women is something that is absolutely still relevant today, even though we're so connected through technology."
...And for those still feeling hesitant about seeing a play with the subtitle the vibrator play, well, as Luckman says, "theatre should take you a little beyond your comfort zone."
In the Next Room, or the vibrator play opens at The Court on 12th May and runs through until 2nd June.