Standards of Decency 3: 300 Vaginas Before Breakfast
nytheatre.com review by Martin Denton
June 1, 2011
Some of the highlights you'll see in Blue Coyote Theater Group's new production Standards of Decency 3: 300 Vaginas Before Breakfast:
- Amanda Jones as a very unorthodox and sexually liberated priest, giving counsel to nervous parishioner Matthew Trumbull, who fears that his addiction to internet pornography is offensive to the Lord (in Matthew Freeman's The Metaphor)
- Rebecca Comtois and Jeremy Plyburn as a pair of overworked pornographers (I guess that's the right name for their profession: they run a website that publishes unauthorized naked photos of famous and not-so-famous women) trying to have a relaxing night off (in Mac Rogers's Date Night at Skintastic Dot Com)
- Lauren Balmer, Alex Neher, Stephanie Willing, and Charlie Wilson as the title characters in Bruce Goldstone's clever comedy for the binary-minded, Bits
- Rachel Craw as an archetypal lonely urban woman professional, longing for connection as she sits in front of her keyboard but eschewing it whenever it happens in real life, in Jordan Seavey's any one: seven or so touches in ten or so minutes
- David Lapkin as a possibly too-forthright English teacher, trying to explain to the mother of one of his students (Katherine Puma) that her son has cheated on his book report by watching a porn version of the assigned novel (in Jacqueline Christy's Romance)
Yes, internet pornography is the thread that binds together this collection of new short plays by an impressive set of indie writers (the others represented here are David Foley, David Johnston, Cheri Magid, and Adam Szymkowicz). Most of the plays are funny, though a couple verge on the creepy (those are the ones I liked least; maybe a personal taste thing). Some, like Christy's, Freeman's, and Foley's Plato's Retreat have genuinely terrific premises. (Foley's play begins with two of Socrates's younger acolytes masturbating while watching some shadows on the wall of a cave, demonstrating that internet porn, like everything else under the sun, isn't really a new idea.)
None does what I was hoping they'd all do, namely really investigate the ways that the massive availability of pornography online has changed the landscapes of personal and public sexuality in contemporary culture. And none—save Rogers's play, which does so only indirectly—looks at the lives of the people who actually make pornography.
But there is a certain amount of food for thought here, and some fun writing, and some commendable acting. All nine pieces are directed by either Gary Shrader, Kyle Ancowitz, or Bob Buckwalter; the evening moves briskly, especially in its second part. The ensemble includes, in addition to those already named, David Sedgwick, Katie Hayes, Jim Ireland, Sarah Ireland, Christopher Nunez, and—in cameos—stage manager F. Dash Vata and co-director Shrader.
For those who are interested in this sort of thing, be aware that despite Blue Coyote's assurance (stated in the program and publicity materials) that "the inclusion of non-gratuitous nudity, violence, and blasphemy is neither discouraged nor required...nor discouraged," absolutely no nudity, and almost no violence or blasphemy pops up in what amounts to a surprisingly tame evening of new work.