A Play In Need of Its Own Treatment [by Rosabel Tan]
We live in an age of sexual liberation: where mutual attempts to disentangle emotional and physical expressions of love are treated as an act of empowerment – friends with benefits, no strings attached. But whether they can be separated is another question altogether, and this is a focal point of Auckland Theatre Company’s latest production, In the Next Room or The Vibrator Play. Set in the late nineteenth century, it presents a society typified by the emotional without the physical: spouses without benefits, and all the strings attached to an unsatisfying seven minutes in the dark.
More than that, it returns us to a time when female sexuality was barely recognised. We follow Dr Givings (Adam Gardiner), a man renowned for his success in treating hysteria in women. The therapy: a breakthrough piece of electrical equipment that induces ‘paroxysms’, a phenomenon that flushes the excess fluid from the womb and relieves women of symptoms such as irritability, depression, and a general tendency to cause trouble.