It’s difficult to talk about sex. It’s especially difficult to talk about sex in front of an audience full of strangers. However, Miranda Rose Hall does just that, creating community through empathy and finding humor and shared vulnerability in the discomfort.
Plot Points in our Sexual Development, Hall’s professional debut, plays at Lincoln Center Theater’s Claire Tow Theater (LCT3) through November 18 and is a must see. With expert direction by Margot Bordelon, the quick, one-hour piece is succinct, lyrical, and deeply affecting.
The play begins with a direct address to the audience. The two characters, Theo and Cecily, share stories (plot points, if you will) of moments in their sexual development. From discomfort during “the talk” to knowledgeable cousins or friends teaching the ins and outs of sex and sexuality, the stories shared are specific and personal, giving audience insight into the difficulties of growing a queer identity through a hetero-centered sexual education.
After sharing a few stories, the characters turn their chairs inward, and we learn that they are recounting these memories in an attempt to better understand each other after an uncomfortable sexual encounter. I won’t try to talk about the moments that follow, as I wouldn’t be able to relay them with nearly as much poetry as Ms. Hall.
Plot points features amazing performances from Jax Jackson (Theo) and Marianne Rendón (Cecily). Jackson and Rendón are absolutely present, both with each other and with the audience, listening with their full selves as their characters work their way through breakthroughs and moments of realization. Through Bordelon’s wonderful direction, we feel invited into the relationship during the opening direct address and then remain invested throughout the play, even as the characters shift their focus away from us and onto each other.
The piece is set in a sparse room with hardwood floors and two chairs. The room seems almost floating. With the void between where floor and wall meet, scenic designer Andrew Boyce highlights the dark unknown between the characters in their journey towards a mutual understanding. The lighting design by Jiyoun Chang is similarly abstracted with a screen at the edge of the floor capturing the squares of warm yellow light before they find their way onto the wall behind, being fragmented by the separation.
We need more queer love stories like Plot Points in our Sexual Development. This piece is a universal tale of love; it is about working through moments of discord to find the point where the love and vulnerability connect us. The grace and care with which these characters move through each moment of the play and navigate the difficulties of this conversation is a lesson to each and every one of us in understanding, care, and acceptance, regardless of our identity or our partner’s.
(Photo by Jeremy Daniel)
What the popular press says...
"We often say of good actors in a long play that they make the time hurtle by; here, lovely performances in a short one make time slow down and give the story body."
Jesse Green for New York Times
"Ironically, the play loses steam once they stop swapping stories and get to the heart of the matter, and its supposed resolution is more like a resigned shrug. Still, the insights it provides into the ever-evolving universe of queer identity will likely send you down your own Memory Lane, no matter where you fall on the x and y axes of the sexuality graph."
Regina Robbins for Time Out New York
External links to full reviews from popular press...