By Bob Evans
Get ready for some while relaxing in the newly installed theater seats at The Living Room as Emma Carter’s new wickedly funny play, “Bed Play: The Elements of Intimacy” runs through July 15.
Carter’s four person play takes place in two bedrooms, predominately with a stunning cast of R. H. Wilhoit, Alisa Lynn, T. Eric Morris, and Kyra Weinberger, all masterfully directed by Katie Gilchrist. Lacey Pacheco round out the creativity by wearing multiple hats as lighting designer, sound designer, production stage manager.
The play opens with a highly strung Darren, R. H. Wilhoit, working up the courage to re-establish a relationship with the girl he dumped several months previously. Still hurt from the breakup, Julie, Alisa Lynn, lets loose some pent up emotions in their initial confrontation before the story jumps back to their first meeting.
Young love, tender, sweet, and sexually awkward–especially with two inexperienced participants–brings lots of laughs and complications when the other two characters help add to the mix of what will happen. Max and Lilah provide the kindling for this raging sex comedy to work. Lilah, Kyra Weinberger, is savvy and comfortable with sex and sexuality. Max, Eric Morris, plays fast and loose seeking personal gratification and a quick exit.
“Bed Play” deals with innocence, loss of innocence, private intimate details about each character, and the challenges each faces as the play moves forward. The show is a laugh-fest, but contains strong personal issues for each character to face. Most face and grow in the short time-span of the play (several months), While laughs keep the audience involved in Act I, after intermission, the laughs become less hardy as the show starts to delve into the darker parts of the characters and move toward a climax.
Carter’s writing and knowledge of building complex characters gives the play body and strength. The direction of Katie Gilchrist keeps the actor focused on their character development and presentation to the audience. Gilchrist has the timing fast-paced to keep the audience engaged. Act I ends in just under an hour and feels like 20 minutes due to the great acting, writing, and pacing of the play.
Act II continues the involved story of young love but slowly turns serious and delves into a problem encountered by many…and mostly undiscussed in secret or private…STDs. Carter confronts the problem and her vivid dialogue allows her characters to discuss the situation with honesty and not shame. Refreshingly different, “Bed Play” treats a societal problem with honesty, directness, and sincerity. One of the many strength of Carter’s play is the approach all characters take to a lifestyle changing event.
The Living Room also deserves praise for producing this new play by a local playwright and with a local cast, helping to build Kansas City’s stature as a “Theater Town.” Those who do not attend theater regularly do not understand the depth and breadth of talent in Kansas City. The Living Room now focuses on home grown plays, playwrights, actors, and technical experts to enrich the city and grow the Arts community.
The collaboration among The Living Room, Emma Carter, Katie Gilchrist, and the actors provides reason for Kansas City to support local theater and help fortify Kansas City as a theater rich developing ground.
“Bed Play” continues through July 15. The show comes with high recommendations. Go, laugh, enjoy, and learn. That’s the elements of good theater.’
Tags: The Living Room, “Bed Play: The Elements of Intimacy”, Kansas City Theater, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment, Kansas City Performing Arts,