Relationships add new depth to play about ... relationships

Tara Bradbury
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‘Sex, The Rules Of’ runs Thursday through Sunday at the LSPU Hall

It would have been great to tour Lois Brown’s play, “Sex, The Rules Of” when it was first mounted back in 2009, says producer and co-star Ruth Lawrence.


At this point, with four years of maturing behind both the play and the actors in it — with Brown and the performers having earned national recognition, awards and valuable experience during the time period — now is the perfect time to remount the production.

“Sex, The Rules Of” opened at Halifax’s Bus Stop Theatre four years ago and had a short, sold-out run at the Rabbitown Theatre in St. John’s, starring Lawrence and Aiden Flynn as couple Lila and Terrence, Mark O’Brien as their son, Gerard, and Marthe O’Brien as Gerard’s girlfriend, Molly.

The play was originally produced with the intention of remounting it, but after Brown temporarily moved to Montreal and O’Brien and Bernard were cast in CBC’s “Republic of Doyle,” the plan was put on hold.

It was all just as well, Lawrence says, given the depth that the four-year growing period is now giving to the play.

“I keep saying to Lois, even though it’s subtle stuff, I see such a difference in everybody’s approach to the show this time,” she says.

“Neither Mark or Aiden was married last time, and Aiden is a dad now. Marthe is engaged to be married. It just does something to you. It’s a different way of looking at the world when there’s another person you’re sharing your life with, I think, and I think all of that has really deepened the experience for everybody this time.”

A new perspective on relationships should definitely add a fresh dimension to the play, which is all about relationships and family dynamics, as well as love, sex, grief, approval and loneliness.

Terrance and Lila have a growingly distant marriage: Lila retreats into mourning the drowning death of her daughter, while Terrance, torn by grief, guilt and physical illness, has a brief affair.

Molly finds herself caught between Terrance and Gerard, while Gerard seeks emotional support from his parents.

With the exception of Flynn, the actors each play other roles as well.

“We all play our own characters, plus we play these archetypes, so I play the older woman to Mark’s young man, and Marthe plays the younger woman in Aiden’s fantasy,” Lawrence says.

“The funny thing about the show is people really enjoyed it (last time), but afterwards they’d say, ‘So is this a show about incest?’ It looked like we were sleeping with our son and daughter, but that actually isn’t the intention at all, it just looks like that because we don’t change characters; we don’t change clothes, really. It might be a bit startling, but people just accept it and go, ‘OK, that’s what’s going on here.’

The play includes a vivid subtext and a lot happens that isn’t written in the script, allowing, Lawrence explains, for Brown and each cast member to interpret the relationships they have with each other.

“There are no periods of silence in this play, and yet those moments where much is said with so little is the strength of the play,” Lawrence says.

“I think when people read the play they are surprised at how little is on the page. To some actors, directors and producers, this is a challenge perhaps beyond comprehension. From the start, this whole group embraced it.”

The hope is to prepare the play for a national tour (there has already been interest shown, Lawrence says) and to get it into the theatre festival circuit.

“Sex, The Rules Of” is running at the LSPU Hall in St. John’s from Thursday until Sunday. Tickets are $32 general admission ($27 for seniors, students and artists), and $18 for the matinée performance on Saturday.

They can be purchased at the LSPU Hall box office, by calling 753-4531, or online at

Twitter: @tara_bradbury

Organizations: Bus Stop Theatre, Rabbitown Theatre, CBC

Geographic location: Montreal, O’Brien

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Recent comments

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