BOTTOM LINE: The subject is sex, sex, and more sex in this searing new drama by Lee Papa. A gut-wrenching exploration of the power of the human sexual drive and how it effects relationships, Papa manages to break new ground in the well-traveled territory of marital infidelity.
Somewhat cynically, but perhaps only honestly, Heterosexuals, posits that beyond the need for love, trust, intimacy, stability, etc., the human animal is driven by sex. Lofty individuals often argue that rather than be called 'heterosexuals' or 'homosexuals', we should identify ourselves as 'homophiles' or 'heterophiles.' This play resoundingly argues that we have accurately labeled ourselves.
At opening, we meet a classic homewrecker, a nymph-like lawyer named by the playwright 'the Other' (played excellently and non-stereotypically by Elizabeth McNeils), and her willing prey of the evening, 'He,' played as a classic suit who wants to get laid at any price by Jeff Kreisler. The seductress titillates her companion with a fun game of sexual truth or dare; her partner in crime plays along until he finally demands that the opening games come to a close and the real work of the evening begin. Yes, 'He' is married. Yes, 'the Other' is one of his wife's oldest friends. This opening scene puts us squarely in the familiar confines of the classic love triangle.
However Papa (who also directed the show) and his able little ensemble, commence to take some unexpected turns as the play progresses, both in form and content.
In the next scene, the day after the above-mentioned tryst, 'The Other' and her old friend 'She' are having lunch. In a nod to August Strindberg's famous play The Stronger, one character does all the talking, literally, while her companion makes her opinions and feelings known through only her non-verbal reactions. As she goes on, speaking at a more and more fevered pitch about her sexual escapades, her sexual theories, her sexual video games, pie charts, and pop-up books, the depth of the Other's sexual pathology, desperation and loneliness is revealed. She, played by Anne Teutschel, has no trouble holding up her end of the conversation, managing to get laughs of recognition for her reactions without ever breaking the tension of the monologue.
Finally, the husband and wife, 'He' and 'She' confront each other. But the scene does not take the form one expects. I won't give away surprises, but I will say there is no role for a long-suffering wife in this play. Teutschel steals the show here, expressing steel-like strength and great depths of vulnerability. It is on her character that the emotional weight of the play rests, but she never changes the subject; it remains sex, sex and more sex.
Excellently written and performed, this play is not light-hearted and it is not fun - the content is painful and the message is dark - but it makes a powerful point. We are heterosexuals through and through, and denying that fact will get us nowhere.
On a side note: leave extra time to get to the theater; it is in the far West Village near the West-Side Highway. Also, be careful not to go to the Fringe venue right next door at 151 Bank Street. The Fringe has a very strict no late seating policy.
(Heterosexuals plays at the Cherry Pit, 155 Bank Street, through August 25th. Remaining performances are Saturday 8/21 at 10:00pm, Monday 8/23 at 8pm, Wednesday 8/25 at 2pm. Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door, and are available at FringeNYC.com, by calling 866.468.7619, or in person at FringeCENTRAL, located at 1 East 8th Street at 5th Avenue. There is NO LATE SEATING for Fringe NYC shows.)