Photo by Jay FraleyI thought I was going to see a play about fucking. And while these 12 vignettes written by four U.K. playwrights (Hilary Fannin, Stephen Greenhorn, Abi Morgan and Mark Ravenhill) and proficiently directed by Dave Barton certainly contain the coital act in various forms and locations, there's something more interesting than copulation going on.
As with all Rude Guerrilla productions I've seen, there is a desire on the part of the company, director and crew to show us something we haven't seen before. This yearning to dig deep is what makes Rude Guerrilla great, even if some of the material they produce is mediocre. If this is failed art, at least it's art.
In Sleeping Around, only two of the 12 scenes are the stuff you wish lasted an entire theater night ("A Kitchen," "A Park"). Half a dozen others are interesting but thankfully short; the remaining four are a snooze. Throughout, the acting is top-notch, especially when it comes to the astonishing Johnna Adams (Lyndsey in "A Kitchen") and the disturbingly spot-on Kelly Quigley (Kate in "A Glass-Bottomed Houseboat").
But what are these scenes about, if not fucking? It's not readily apparent. Each scene contains a character from the previous scene, now in a totally different power situation: the dominated becomes the dominating; the dynamics of personality change, often abruptly.
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But the play isn't really about that either. We're not asked to know these characters completely or to understand their interpersonal histories.
We all change up our roles depending on who we're with and upon whose turf we stand—or lay. And this is what we might reflect upon: Why do we give one person power and not another? The answer might be something material, or perhaps we cling to a dead relationship because we're lost without it. Maybe a fling offers us a kind of freedom—if we're willing to put up with degradation. Or maybe we don't fuck at all but reveal our sexuality by coming as close as we can to the act before pulling back, getting fulfillment from that tension.
Sex that does not come from love is a powerful and uniquely personal tool. And that is what Sleeping Around is about. It seems obvious—if you can look past the very distracting act of getting it on. But can you?
SLEEPING AROUND BY RUDE GUERRILLA AT THE EMPIRE THEATER, 200 N. BROADWAY, SANTA ANA, (714) 547-4688. FRI.-SAT., 8 P.M.; SUN., 2:30 P.M. NO PERFORMANCES THANKSGIVING WEEKEND. THROUGH DEC. 15. $12-$15.