Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Sexual Neuroses of Our Parents

Photo/Thomas Hand Keefe

The Sexual Neuroses of Our Parents throws around the word "fuck" a lot, especially from the mouth of its protagonist, Dora (Grace Gummer), an emotionally challenged girl who is, for the first time in ten years, "pulling down the pharmaceutical curtain." But the show's about sexual awakening just as fucking's the same as making love: and this is where Kristjan Thor's direction (every bit as closed off as Dora) works small miracles. For instance, the Fine Gentleman (Max Lodge)--who is actually a sleazy door-to-door salesman--seduces Dora by talking about how perfume is made from ox shit, and soap from pig fat: the underlying lies are given up by their surfaces, and that's what makes Dora's slow awakening so tragic. This is Gummer's play, and she commands the play despite a necessarily restrained performance. Beyond the dull surface of "I dunno"s and her energetic parroting, this girl, described as "almost not being involved," actually has feelings. "No big deal," she says, after revealing that she hates wearing pants, but also when describing what it felt like to have her baby sucked out of her. It's the cold, casual tragedy of the everyday, and it's the bitterest sort of love story.

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