Dreaming of Sexual Healing, Sort Of...
Owl & Pussycat Theatre Company
With Dreaming of Sexual Healing, Sort Of... the Owl & Pussycat Theatre Company present possibly the first online sex comedy.
Therapist Dr. Stephanie Elba (Ashley Ford) finds treating patients over Zoom to be irksome. Technology gives the more needy patients the opportunity to keep in constant touch. The distracted doctor agrees to a suggestion from Else (Christine Lane) to hold a group therapy session, not realising the manipulative sex addict is using the session to persuade child of nature Martin (Adam Dorsey) and evangelical Christian Stewart (Spencer Irwin) to join her in a polygamous cohabitation.
Dreaming of Sexual Healing, Sort Of... shows the limitations of staging plays online. The play is essentially a farce which depends for success upon a fast-moving environment in which people bump into each other and speak over their lines. Such an atmosphere is not possible online where the characters are isolated and mute buttons ensure no-one speaks unless invited. On occasion, however, there is a sequence that works really well such as the gullible Stewart praising Else’s generous and giving nature while an increasingly frazzled doctor desperately tries to interject with more accurate descriptions like: ‘’Impulsive! Copious!’’
Although the pacing may not be as fast as one might wish, the script and performances are pin-sharp. Author Theo Salter tackles the fact the characters are hard to like by pushing their irritating traits to the maximum. Blissed-out hippy Martin is so pretentious he insists people pronounce his name ‘’Mah-ton’’.
Christine Lane is excellent as the sly Else who is so self-obsessed she thinks nothing of changing into a seductive red dress in the middle of a therapy session. Sean Dillingham turns the deeply needy Joe into such a grotesque character is it hardly surprising even his therapist tries to avoid him. Ashley Ford is the closest to a sympathetic character (even if she must be rotten at her job); her expressive face showing a growing awareness she is getting out of her depth and comically struggling to regain control.
Although the farcical elements in Dreaming of Sexual Healing, Sort Of... are not completely successful, the play is worth watching for a fine script and performances. Besides, any play that concludes by paraphrasing Back to the Future is worth your attention.
Reviewer: David Cunningham