Monique Lacoste, director of the Santa Fe Playhouse’s new production “In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play),” calls this 2010 Tony award-nominated play by Sarah Ruhl a ‘comedy of manners.’
“The play is about heavily constrained people in the Victorian era who are exposed to new ways of the world,” explains Lacoste, an instructor of communications at Central New Mexico Community College who has studied Victorian behavioral norms.
“As someone with a background in feminist and women’s studies, Vaughn Irving (artistic director of the Santa Fe Playhouse) thought I would be a good person to direct the play.”
Ruhl was wondering why doctors in the 1880s used vibrators as a therapy for their female patients suffering from a condition they labeled as “hysteria” when she wrote “In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play).”
The play tells the story of Dr. Givings, who is obsessed with the marvels of late 19th century technology and implements the latest medical techniques on his patients with stunning results. Givings’ wife Catherine, who knows that her husband’s female patients feel positively transformed by treatments with the vibrator, longs for a closeness with her husband that she doesn’t experience.
“This historically-based and touching comedy discusses the struggles of intimacy, marriage and the mysteries of one’s own body,” says Lacoste. “The play is about unrequited yearning, a longing that is unmet.”
Starring in this adult-themed play are local actors Mairi Chanel, Andrea Fofoanah, Jennifer Graves, Marty Madden, Isabel Madley, Hamilton Turner and John Widell.