If you’ve ever wanted to witness the inside of a sex scandal then Stephanie Timm’s world premiere of Tails of Wasps, Directed by Darragh Kennan, is the play for you. The intimate setting begins at the door as the concierge shows you to your room, and the play between stage and reality is blurred from the start as the set and the setting are one, and 6th Avenue can be seen and heard though the window, as the audience is shoehorned into a hotel room. Staging conventions are broken and the effect is a mixed bag. On one hand the novelty is welcome, and the actors could at anytime sit right in the lap of the audience, but on the other hand the luxury of sitting in the dark is stripped away and the discomfort, while appropriate to the artistic vision, is discomfort none-the-less.
New Century Theatre Company may have chosen this odd set (Peter Dylan O’Connor) for its intimate nature, or they may have done their best to accommodate the awkward Buster’s Event Room at ACT. Either way it is what it is and the scandal gets personal quick as Jack (Paul Morgan Stetler) is first admired, but quickly buried under the quagmire of his addiction and his indiscretions. Stetler is a seasoned actor, and his understated performance channels the sleaze and insecurity of a man at the top of his game. Sylvie Davidson as call girl Becca brings her game as well, and is a convincing seductress. Rachel (Brenda Joyner) holds her own in this ironic, feminist premiere, as the mistress. But it is wife Deborah (Betsy Schwartz), and prostitute Judith (Hannah Mootz) who deliver the most palpable performances here. Schwartz gives her heart to her performance; Mootz her body as she convulses and flops oozing what must be the clap into the laps of the over-exposed audience.
Short dresses dominate the apparel (Kimberly Newton) in this sexually charged reprimand on power and its abuses. The play is clearly a warning to men, and the patriarchy will fall under the clumsy misuse of women, and the idea that women are to be used as objects at all. Stephanie Timm puts scandal at the fore and draws on the hearts and bodies of the feminine to exploit the intimacy of a sex addict, and the spoils of man.
Tails of Wasps runs April 3rd-27th, Thursday-Sunday, 8pm at Buster’s Special Events Room, ACT Theater, 700 Union St, Downtown Seattle, (206) 292-7676. Tickets can be purchased at www.acttheatre.org.