Monday, January 23, 2017

reviews - THREESOME - Nearly Naked Theatre

Dylan Kim, Bernhard Connor Verhoeven, and Jenny Cohen Sanchez
photo: Laura Durant
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)
Click here for more information on this production that runs through February 4th.

"... Threesome... focuses on the treatment of women in both Muslim and American cultures...While it isn't a completely successful play, it is always engaging and Nearly Naked Theatre's production, which is well cast with solid direction, keeps the tensions high and the laughs big. This is an intellectual war of the sexes that includes an especially riveting ending. ...an Egyptian-American couple..have invited a white American man home for a threesome. The couple, Leila and Rashid ...appear to be having some relationship issues that center on a book Leila has written about her personal, previous experiences in Cairo a few years back during the political upheavals, which she has yet to fully share with Rashid. ...Doug is the charming and somewhat naïve man they invite home and soon discover is the person who has been hired to shoot her book jacket. El Guindi's play is an intriguing discussion on various subjects, including sexual and gender politics and the clash of cultures between the West and the East. ...El Guindi's dialogue and characters are realistic, intelligent, intriguing, and very well written. ...As Doug states in the first act, when he is in bed, naked, and a witness to Leila and Rashad's in-depth conversation on these topics: "It's like a seminar. Without any clothes on." However, while the play makes for an interesting discussion on these subjects, it does meander a bit and is somewhat repetitive in the fights and debates that are portrayed...Director Damon Dering does an exceptional job of ensuring that the shifting tones of the play—from sex farce comedy to introspective drama—never seem at odds....Jenny Cohen Sanchez is superb as Leila. Through her rich, passionate and powerful portrayal, we clearly understand Leila's struggle and her fight to free herself from what happened by writing about it...Bernhard Connor Verhoeven shows us that our pre-conceived notions of the hunky, clueless Doug are far from the truth of who he really is. ...As Rashid, Dylan Kim plays the least developed of the characters, but Kim's impassioned delivery allows us to see the hurt and pain Rashid feels even if he mostly comes off as an uncaring jerk....The ending packs a wallop due to the expert combination of Clare Burnett's rich lighting and P. Swartz's immersive sound design. Threesome starts as a funny sex farce but turns into a dramatic story of a woman's passionate search for self-identity and reclaimed dignity. With a superb cast and solid direction, Nearly Naked Theatre's production is a funny and awkward yet always compelling, interesting and intimate expose of the tensions and preconceptions we all have on some very explosive topics. It is a smart and timely play with intriguing characters and an ending that is deeply moving in its raw passion." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

" Shock comedies and disturbing psychosexual dramas are specialties for director Damon Dering and his Nearly Naked Theatre. “Threesome,” by Egyptian-born playwright Yussef El Guindi, is both of these rolled into one....Bernhard Connor Verhoeven provides the biggest laughs as he lets it all hang out — both his body and his goofy soul — while Leila and Rashid (Jenny Cohen-Sanchez and Dylan Kim) squirm uncomfortably at the fix they’ve gotten themselves into... This production packs a dramatic punch thanks to emotionally raw performances, but it may be difficult to achieve full immersion in the story, both because the characters’ Arabic background is less than convincing...and because El Guindi’s writerly dialogue can be overly stiff and intellectual. “Threesome” has flaws, but it also has heft." Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

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