Review “Threesome” (The Other Theatre Company): Compelling and Troubling

The Other Theatre Company (TOTC) announces the Chicago premiere of THREESOME.
The show opens in a couple’s bedroom. Demetrios Troy (Rashid) and  Suzan Faycurry (Leila) are preparing to invite a stranger into their bed. Instead of sexy and playful, the conversation is awkward and tense. The swingers’ vibe is hugely absent. It’s obvious that Troy is a reluctant participant and Faycurry is mechanically pushing the romp as an experiment. We don’t know the underlying agendas yet but we know the mood is more robotic than erotic.  A confident and naked Mike Tepeli (Doug) struts into this frigid tryst.  Tepeli then unabashedly chronicles his recent bout with diarrhea. Possibly this is the least sexy foreplay ever. It’s definitely not  an easy swipe-right-Tinder-hook-up.
Playwright Yussef El Guindi teases us into the room with a cheeky title.  His true intention is to uncover and tackle gender and ethnic differences.  His guarded conversations are rippled with vulnerability. Under the skillful direction of   Jason Gerace, the talented crew take turns exposing their fears. The happy-go-lucky Tepeli reveals body loathing issues. We observe a versatile Tepeli wither under the weight of his own perceived body shaming. Troy teeters between a guy’s guy facade and his own insecurity in losing his manhood, girlfriend, and career. As these men show their weaknesses, Faycurry grows stronger.  She seems to thrive in their flawed reveals. At a pivotal moment, she crumbles.  Her raw emotional exposure is heart-wrenching.
THREESOME is less about the act of sex as the acts of the sexes. It’s not lusty. It’s lofty. El Guindi pens a thought-provoking expose on the primal forces driving genders and ethnic groups to domination. The story is compelling.  The truth is troubling.  After this THREESOME, I don’t so much want to linger over a cigarette as pound a stiff drink.
And nod out to Lizzie Bracken’s scenic design and the mighty stage crew that completely dismantle the set during the intermission for two completely different locations.
SIDEBAR: Unfortunately, the night of my performance was a forced fivesome.  A couple in the front row talked and crunched through a bag of chips during the entire first act.  The show is in Greenhouse’s smaller theatre.  These audience members were incredibly distractive for the audience and disrespectful for the actors. Usually, I handle this disgraceful behavior by tapping someone on the shoulder in front of me or shooting a disapproving look with a ‘ssh’ behind me. These folks were far enough away that I couldn’t reprimand without adding additional drama. I’m hoping this was an isolated incident. Still, I’d recommend TOTC be aware the play’s title might bring in drunken, non-traditional theatre goers. Monitoring the audience for disruption ensures the focus stays on the antics onstage.
Running Time: One hundred and ten minutes includes an intermission
At Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave.
Written by Yussef El Guindi
Direction by Jason Gerace
Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.
Saturdays at 3 and 8 p.m.
Sundays at 3 p.m.
Thru May 21st
Tickets are on sale now at theothertheatrecompany.com.
 For more information and reviews on Chicago theatre, visit Theater in Chicago.

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