The provocative young playwright Thomas Bradshaw clearly has his own reasons for calling his new play Intimacy, but I came up with a bunch of other names after watching this nearly 2 ˝-hour production by The New Group at Theatre Row, directed by Scott Elliot. For example, I think Nudity would be a more apt title. Or Titillation. Or even Ejaculation. Because there’s a lot more of all three happening on stage (yes, the last is simulated though shockingly real-looking) than anything else.
The show’s rather convoluted plot involves three neighboring families in an upscale suburb: seemingly uptight and born-again widower James (Daniel Gerroll) and his slacker teenaged son, aspiring filmmaker Matthew (Austin Caldwell); Hispanic contractor Fred (David Anzuelo) and his super-smart teenaged daughter Sarah (Dea Julien); and interracial couple Jerry (Keith Randoldph Smith) and Pat (Laura Esterman) and their daughter, neighborhood hottie Janet (Ella Dershowitz), who has just launched a career as a porn star.
Not only do the families’ end up copulating with each other – in various combinations – but they eventually do so while on film, when Matthew decides to make his very own porno. How shocking! Or maybe not. While one wouldn’t see this kind of play on Broadway, it’s ultimately not that different from some of the fare now on HBO or Showtime.
While Bradshaw does have some smart observations on how people connect – or fail to connect – or how we often substitute sex for intimacy, even his best points (and funniest lines) are hard to remember amid the copious visual displays of often gratuitous nudity. All the cast members disrobe to some extent or another, with Anzuelo showing off the most impressive goods. (However, Caldwell deserves points for being the most adventurous.) And stage veterans Gerroll and Esterman manage to give highly nuanced performances, even while talking about unusual sex acts. Perhaps there needs to be a special award at the end of the season just for that.
By Brian Scott Lipton
Visit the Site
David Anzuelo, Austin Cauldwell, Ella Dershowitz, Laura Esterman, Daniel Gerroll, Dea Julien, Keith Randolph Smith
Neighborhood: Hell's Kitchen
New York, NY 10036