Review “Things You Shouldn’t Say Past Midnight” (Windy City Playhouse): Light-hearted, Sexually-charged Frolic

Tuesday, August 18, 2015 Permalink

2028_Shane Kenyon as Gene and Patrese McClain as Grace in THINGS YOU SHOULDNT SAY PAST MIDNIGHT. Photo by Michael BrosilowThe Windy City Playhouse presents THINGS YOU SHOULDN’T SAY PAST MIDNIGHT.

Playwright Peter Ackerman has penned a saucy tale of lovers that go bang in the night.  This isn’t a rom-com as much as a sex-com.  Three couples.  Three bedrooms.  Although it never becomes a menage-a-trois, Ackerman cleverly connects these six together via three-way calling and speaker phones.  And the telephone sex therapy session isn’t the only contemporary twist, Ackerman’s three couples intrigue as unexpected pairings.

From lights up, Director William Brown keeps it intimate and uncomfortably personal.  Brown skillfully brings the audience into the bedroom as Peter Meadows (Ben) and Emily Tate (Nancy) are getting it on.  Their bonking takes on an unexpected nasty turn as Tate slaps Meadows and then screams out an insensitive phrase.  The politically incorrect is both hilarious and awkward.  This moment is the crux of the show as Tate insists that being in love and being thoroughly overcome in an orgasm is a safe zone for expressing any sentiment.  Meadows and Tate banter and fight with believable vulnerability.  Their newish relationship is authentically hesitant.  On the surface, they seem close.  But as a disagreement grows bigger, they appear to be at a pivotal juncture in couple-hood.  Can they move forward… together?

Lights out.  Action turns to the center stage bedroom. The voluptuous Patrese McClain (Grace) is turning up the heat as an earnest Shane Kenyon (Gene) coaxes her into meaningful conversation.  Ackerman flip-flops the stereotypical relational gender woes.  McClain is looking for a satisfying quickie.  Kenyon is searching for a deeper connection.  Adding to the hilarity, McClain is turned on by Kenyon’s tough exterior as a hitman.  And Kenyon longs to learn from McClain’s college education.  Under Brown’s masterful direction, the absurdity is highly comical as the duo try to get their individual needs met.

When Tate arrives at her best friend Grace’s door for advice, McClain calls her therapist who is Gene’s brother.  The lampoon escalates as the third bedroom is brought into the sex-com.  The call interrupts therapist/brother Chris Sheard (Mark) from his bootie call with Robert Spencer (Mr. Abramson).  The hunky and young Sheard stops pleasuring the much-senior Spencer to answer the call.  Sheard, clad in his underwear and grabbing a legal pad, adds to the humor by quickly shifting into a pastoral voice to help.  Throughout the show, Spence provides ongoing guffaws related to his aged perspective.

The dynamic of this eclectic braintrust troubleshooting Tate’s boyfriend problems is funny.  But the bigger bust-a-gut move is when they conference in Meadows to hear his side.  Meadows shares the ‘insensitive phrase’ that Tate blurted out in the first few minutes of the show.  And with that move, Ackerman effectively unravels this kinky romp to riotous results.

THINGS YOU SHOULDN’T SAY PAST MIDNIGHT is a steamy sex-com for the summer.  It reminded me of the bubbly 70s television show “Love American Style.”  Although it’s a light-hearted, sexually-charged frolic, beware!  Seeing it might influence pillow talk during climax… and that might not be a good thing.

Running Time:  Two hours and ten minutes includes intermission

At Windy City Playhouse, 3014 W. Irving Park

Written by Peter Ackerman

Directed by William Brown

Wednesdays, Thursdays at 7:30pm

Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm

Sundays at 7pm (except for 3pm on September 13th

Thru October 4th

Tickets for $25-$60 at 773-891-8985; http://windycityplayhouse.com/things/

Production photo by Michael Brosilow

For more reviews and information on Chicago theatre, visit Theatre in Chicago.

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