Theater of Tough Love
By HOLLY WALL, 6/17/2007
Talking about erotica
I was out of town when the 50 Swats writers' collective opened its new production, called "Dirty Thoughts," at the Nightingale Theater, 1416 E. 4th St., but I did catch the show last Friday night.
I always get a little nervous driving down Fourth Street to this little ramshackle theater. I've seen their shows so often that you'd think I'd know better by now. Or, maybe it's because I know better that I get nervous. It's because I know inside those doors lies a challenge. You don't go to the Nightingale to see happy, light theatre that makes your insides warm and fuzzy. You go to the Nightingale to see something you've never seen before, and likely wouldn't otherwise, to laugh, to squirm, to feel nervous, to think.
And "Dirty Thoughts" is no different. A show based entirely on erotica, and not just sex, but psychology as well, will likely make people squirm. And it did.
In traditional 50 Swats fashion, "Dirty Thoughts" is performed as a series of separate vignettes, all written by members of the collective: Amy Wilson, Sara Cruncleton, Heather Sams, John Cruncleton, Jasn Watts, Joseph Gomez, Julie Seals, Angela Adams and Kaycee Johnson. The performers include all of the above, except Amy Wilson, as well as Cassie Hollis.
The short monologues and dialogues include snapshots of sex on an elevator, the life of a pornographer, a Midwestern housewife's masturbation techniques, an outlaw and a whore, puberty, breaking up and more.
One of my personal favorites included "Blooming," by Julie Seals and performed by Seals, Johnson and Hollis, in which three pubescent girls agonize over the thought of "doing it." It's a conversation I'm sure every young girl has had when she or one of her friends start having sex. The idea is still kind of "gross," but also tempting, and there are so many questions over how and when it should be done. And with whom.
The first act, which was lighter and a little funnier than the second, also included two songs, by John Cruncleton and Gomez, the lyrics of which were shocking and hilarious.
All around me I heard echoes of the same statement: "I liked the first act better than the second." That's because the second act was definitely darker, more intense. While the first act explored the lighter side of sex, the second delved deeper into the psychology, especially the sick, twisted ways people use sex and each other. I saw mouths drop wide open, "I can't believe they said that" written across faces.
But they did say that, and that's what I always say I love about this group. They'll say anything. You'll definitely find yourself feeling uncomfortable if you see "Dirty Thoughts." The kind of uncomfortable you feel when you think someone could catch you looking at porn, when you feel your most innermost secret fantasies and desires could somehow be leaked in an office-wide e-mail. You know all those things you think about sex but pray to God no one knows you're thinking? That's what "Dirty Thoughts" is about.
And the bottom line is, really, sex sells. I saw more people in that theater Friday night than I've ever seen before. And when I went outside for a short break between "Dirty Thoughts" and "Candy Land," featuring the ladies of Eye Candy Burlesque, there was a throng of people outside, pushing to get in and see some tits and ass. (High quality tits and ass, mind you. That was a fun show as well. Too bad you missed it.)
You can still see "Dirty Thoughts" this weekend, Friday and Saturday, at 8pm. Tickets are $8, and Saturday night's show will be followed by "Old Crow Confessions" at 10pm.