'In The Next Room (or the Vibrator Play)' entices at Ferndale Rep

"In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play)." What? The title alone of Ferndale Rep's 41st season's opening production would be reason enough for instantly intrigued audiences to make plans to see this daring, farcical comedy.

Created by fearless playwright Sarah Ruhl, the surprising show based on the history of the vibrator world-premiered at Berkeley Rep in 2009. Critically acclaimed, it moved to Broadway where the production was nominated for the 2010 Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize for Best New Play.

Ruhl based her script on turn-of-the-century physicians' "facts" about "curing women's hysteria" recorded in their medical journals.

She combined their findings into a fascinating take on the unexpected results discovered during one doctor's therapeutic cure for women's mysterious, hysterical ailments.

The play is set in the late 1880s and the non-linear plot revolves around what happens after the wife of Dr. Givings is intrigued by the sounds she hears coming from his operating theater where he's treating his female patients.

Their obvious happiness when they emerge -- and their constant returns for his recently discovered new treatment -- is more than enough to inspire her curiosity to find out exactly what it is.

Can she be treated as well to cure her own secret problems? Since the ladies from all over town seem to suddenly be lining up for intimate cures, it certainly seems to be working wonderfully well. And, thanks to the recent, convenient co-discovery of electricity, it somehow works even better. Humm.

Rae Robison directs the show. Her versatile ensemble features an impressive cast of actors: Calder Johnson, Kelsey MacIlvaine, Greta Joan, Meagan Johnson, Jeremy Webb, Ashley Russell and Bobby Bennett. Liz Uhazy did the scenic and light design; Calder Johnson, the costumes. Justin Takata is the stage manager.

Ferndale Repertory Theatre describes the show as a "richly textured period comedy that allows contemporary audiences to examine love, sexuality, relationships, marriage and motherhood through the sometimes not-so-safe distance of time."

And that's not all.

"Personally, I would add that this play is brilliant and funny," director Robison said. "And completely topical regarding the 'mysteries' of the female form -- and marriage. As a director, I really enjoy working on new pieces and sharing new works with everyone in Humboldt."

The show opens on Friday at 8 p.m. and continues Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Oct 21. Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m.

The show is appropriate for adult audiences due to its mature content; tickets are $16 general, $14 students/seniors. To order advance tickets, call 1 (800) 838-3006.

f you go

What: "In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play)"

When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: Ferndale Repertory Theatre

Admission: $16 general; $14 students/seniors, appropriate for mature audiences

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