I see quite a few plays, but never have I heard someone laughing so hard that she actually cried out for help. At the Thursday night performance of Four Humors‘ Love is Blind…and Furry at Bedlam Theatre, the woman behind me was in such paroxysms that she pleaded for mercy, as though someone was tickling her. “Stop! Oh, Stop!”
The rest of us weren’t in quite such a state, but we enjoyed plenty of laughs at the sex farce written and directed by Jason Ballweber—also an actor (though not in this show) whose performances I enjoyed in Jon Ferguson’s plays You’re My Favorite Kind of Pretty and Super Monkey. Ballweber has concocted a superb premise, and he does a lot with it, aided by a very game cast.
|love is blind…and furry, playing through november 14 at bedlam theatre. for tickets ($15) and information, see bedlamtheatre.org.|
Here’s the setup: Dr. Stevens (Ryan Lear) is a psychiatrist specializing in the treatment of superkinky sex disorders. Among his patients, Tina (Alisa Mattson) gets off on math; instead of a vibrator, she owns an abacus. Guy (Mark Rehani) has a thing for panties. Peter (Dan Peltzman) needs to dress like a dog to show affection. Karen (Courtney McLean), who is blind, has a secret fetish that is only revealed at the play’s conclusion; and Gary (the invaluable Jon Cole) wishes his fetish were secret: he can’t get an erection unless he sits on a pie. Supposedly for therapeutic purposes, Dr. Stevens books them all into a single hotel room attended by the curious bellhop Bridgette (Madelyne Riley) for a weekend of group therapy.
I’m not sure that there’s any place but Bedlam where this kind of production would fit so comfortably, and where the actors could be quite as fearless at such close range: sitting in the front row, I was accidentally kicked in the opening dance number. Rehani struts around in tiny pink briefs (the hirsute, mustachioed actor will remind you of Borat in his beachwear); McLean flashes her derriere at Peltzman, compelling him to run for his dog suit; and Cole ends up in boxer shorts with an erection so large that he can (and does) use it to knock over furniture, yelling, “Who’s got pie on his ass now? Who’s got pie on his ass now?!”
The actors’ fun is completely contagious, though hopefully their ailments aren’t. Cole in particular is a standout; after Dalí-DADA and The Million Dollar Museum, this marks the third time I’ve seen him at Bedlam playing a mentally addled eccentric (two of whom have also been sex fiends), and he’s managed to create a complete, unique character each time. His Gary is the only character in Love is Blind who seems to have any genuine shame about his condition, and yet he’s come to terms with it; touchingly, he carries a mat around so as to avoid messing the floor with his pie-sitting.
Ballweber is a sharp writer and director; the many laugh lines are well-timed but not so well-timed that you feel sitcom-style cues for laughter, as you feel in many comedic productions for the stage. Further, Ballweber has faith in his actors: some of the funniest moments in Love is Blind are completely silent and almost motionless, as the characters simply react to one another.
A farce, though, is tricky to pull off: the best of them are built with airtight logic and intricate setups that pay off like cascading dominoes as characters’ absurd situations collide with one another. The architecture of Love is Blind‘s plot is not complex. The four doors in the striking pure-orange set by Samantha Johns promise wild and intricate complications that do not ensue; the doors just provide four convenient excuses to move characters on- and offstage.
In fairness, though, life is not always complicated. Sometimes your needs are simple: you just want a little love and affection…while you sit in a pie.