Friday, September 12, 2014

Review: The Freaks at Night

The freaks really do come out at night. Sex can be a sacred thing, but when the environment calls for letting go, honesty come out and true nature is revealed. In Kim Davies new drama Smoke, two occupants of a sex party have an impromptu encounter that leads to an evening of roleplay and testing physical limitations.
photo courtesy of Hunter Canning
Smoke is a sexy and provocative play about temptation and seduction. Davies’ script brings together Julie and John at a sex party where anything goes, sexually that is. John, an intern for an artist who happens to be Julie’s father, and Julie, a student, engage in battle of dominance as they explore their sexual desires. What makes Smoke special is Davies exquisite ability to bring such a sexy subject to the stage in an engaging manner. Along with director Tom Costello, Smoke treads the line of naughty and erotic tastefully. The pacing that Costello plays with allows the piece to be a psychological thriller of foreplay. For some, the play touches upon a foreign world and by keeping the action constant and the relationship between the pair mysterious, Smoke is never dull. When the pair finally consent to bring their bond to the next step, the level of danger rises immediately. Like the infamous Chekhov’s gun rule, there should be a new rule called Davies’ knife. The moment when Julie discovers John’s pack of knives, you knew they would be used in some capacity, but Davies uses it in one of the most shocking way possible. The only hangup of the play is the too convenient ploy that in a span of an hour plus, no one entered the kitchen. But as John said, the food’s in the living room.
The chemistry on stage was astounding. Madeleine Bundy and Stephen Stout as Julie and John brought thrill to the extreme. Bundy’s innocent submissive balanced Stout’s seductive dominant. The power shifts throughout the piece kept Bundy and Stout active and in tune with one another. While Bundy’s Julie seemed to play up her roles, you never knew when she was acting and when she was honest. This contrasted nicely with the Stout’s earnestness throughout.
Costello led the entire team through this dark and secretive world. Set designer Andrew Diaz did a tremendous job transforming the blackbox into an apartment kitchen, utilizing only a corner of the space, allowing the play to be even more intimate. Costume designer Beth Goldenberg allowed the actors to look sexy and appealing without looking like costumes. The soundscape Lee Kinney offered throughout the piece allowed for the fear of being caught at any moment. Lighting designer Daisy Long created a nice ambiance and offered a nice affect with the light through the window, however it allowed it to be a tad confusing what the light source exactly was.
Smoke is a stimulating voyeuristic look at sex. Feeling dirty is almost guaranteed after seeing this production but it will allow you to think about how far is too far.