'Sex, The Rules Of' weaves an intricate, complex tale

Gordon Jones
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A quasi-incestuous quadrangle

Attending a play written, directed, or enacted by Lois Brown, you do not expect a lady-like, little-finger-lifting tea party. Indeed, with a title like "Sex, The Rules Of," you might be forgiven for anticipating an off-the-wall beanfeast. You would have been wrong.

Here be an intelligent and witty adult comedy, staged with elegant economy, before a sold-out opening-night audience of appreciative insiders - knowledgeable theatre professionals and dyed-in-the-wool theatrical patrons.

Attending a play written, directed, or enacted by Lois Brown, you do not expect a lady-like, little-finger-lifting tea party. Indeed, with a title like "Sex, The Rules Of," you might be forgiven for anticipating an off-the-wall beanfeast. You would have been wrong.

Here be an intelligent and witty adult comedy, staged with elegant economy, before a sold-out opening-night audience of appreciative insiders - knowledgeable theatre professionals and dyed-in-the-wool theatrical patrons.

Audience is seated on three sides of a playing space that is empty - and remains empty - except for a large white sheet that serves as bedding, ghostly shroud, or big tent (with flashlights shining through the fabric into the dimmed theatre). What more do you need, though, if you have a smart script and the services of four high-powered and sophisticated actors?

Lila and Terrance (Ruth Lawrence and Aiden Flynn) are a middle-aged married couple whose daughter drowned. Gerard and Molly (Mark O'Brien and Marthe Bernard) are their son and his girl-friend, the latter much resembling the drowned daughter. The play consists of the shifting attachments, jealousies and attractions generated between the two couples and within the foursome, as son and mother flirt sexually, while father and surrogate daughter tease and provoke one another. In this quasi-incestuous quadrangle, father and potential daughter-in-law get steamy, while mother and son spend time under the sheet, until the quartet finally converge under the canvas of a single tent. Fade to black.

Ruth Lawrence is the angry, self-doubting, frustrated wife to Flynn's haunted, brooding, and dyspeptic husband. Diminutive Marthe Bernard is a sassily provocative girlfriend and surrogate daughter, with O'Brien serving as conflicted mug-in-the-middle of the multi-faceted, trans-generational relationships.

Dialogue is sharp and snappy. Individual and ensemble performance is to die for. Characters are well-built, tightly-focussed and convincing, as they squabble, fantasize, bond and disbond in complex fugues and variations, resolving finally into conciliatory chords.

Written and directed by Lois Brown, "Sex, The Rules Of " premiered at the 2009 Atlantic Fringe Festival in Halifax, receiving its first exposure in St. John's with a three-day run at the Rabbittown Theatre this past weekend. So this is a retrospective notice.

If you were not there, you should agitate for a re-mount. In fact, you should demand it.

Organizations: Rabbittown Theatre

Geographic location: Halifax, St. John's

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  • Jenn
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    The Rabbittown Theatre has just announced a HOLD OVER for ONE NIGHT ONLY of this production on Saturday, September 19th at 8pm - please call 739-8220 to reserve.

  • Jenn
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    The Rabbittown Theatre has just announced a HOLD OVER for ONE NIGHT ONLY of this production on Saturday, September 19th at 8pm - please call 739-8220 to reserve.