Sex Lives of Our Parents

  • Our critic's rating:
    June 1, 2011

    Review by Tulis McCall

    I have to keep revising my list of the top ten most disappointing productions I have seen. This show has earned a spot in that list.

    The set alone should be a dead giveaway that we are in for a migraine. The walls and floor are a repeating pattern of blue cameos with white figures. One is a 1950’s cocktail dress and the other is a woman’s profile. You can’t look at this set for more than a few minutes without wanting to bolt out of the theatre.

    Then there is the play itself, which is the story of an engaged couple living with her parents and sleeping in the room she used as a child – apparently in the same childhood bed as well. Virginia (Virginia Kull) has visions of her mother’s sex life that reveal secrets her mother never told anyone. Other than these visions Virginia is not clairvoyant in any way. They begin with her mother, as a small child, seeing her parents having sex and delighting in the sight. Hello in there…. The visions move through puberty and a Polaroid camera incident, to unrequited love in college. These visions come to Virginia from nowhere, for no reason other than the fact that she is about to be married. They frighten her and bump her off the trail that leads to her nuptials. Her fiancé Jeff (Ben Rappaport) is left out in the cold, with only the minimal amount of information given to him. Virginia’s parents Charlotte (Lisa Emery) and Christopher (Daniel Jenkins) are philosophical about Virginia’s state in the present, and busy meeting and mating in the flash backs.

    In addition there is a chum of the engaged couple, Elliott (Teddy Bergman) who has a lisp and a self imposed diagnosis of Alcoholism whose character serves no purpose. There is also an old flame Lucas (Mark Zeisler) who is Charlotte’s old and secret love. He is the one that Virginia discovers in her visions.

    These are all the ingredients, and try as we might we cannot make them connect to one another. This play is a series of incidences that are in no way engaging and in no way connected to each other, except for the fact that the playwright insists they are.

    How this play got picked out of all the plays that cross the desk at Signature is a phenomenal mystery. The plot, such as it is, defies belief. Even with good direction and solid acting, this would be a stretch. Lacking either, this is a long and painful evening.

    (Tulis McCall)

    "Davis McCallum’s sometimes tentative direction tries uncertainly to marry the whimsy and sincerity in the writing, but inconsistencies remain."
    Charles Isherwood for the New York Times

    "Ultimately murky comedy."
    Joe Dziemianowicz for the New York Daily News

    "It's not like there's anything terribly wrong about Michael Mitnick's new "Sex Lives of Our Parents." But there isn't anything terribly right, either."
    Elisabeth Vincentelli for the New York Post

    "Insinuatingly entertaining, wondrously touching work."
    Erik Haagensen for Back Stage

    "Pleasant little comedy that gradually turns bittersweet."
    Michael Sommers for Newsroom Jersey

    "Too low on wit and limited in purpose to entertain."
    Marilyn Stasio for Variety

    External links to full reviews from popular press...

    New York Times - New York Daily News - New York Post - Back Stage - Newsroom Jersey - Variety