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In the Next Room (or the vibrator play) [Paperback]

Sarah Ruhl

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Book Description

Nov. 16 2010

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Theatre Communications Group (Nov. 16 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559363606
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559363600
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 13.7 x 1.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #386,414 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Much better to watch than to read April 1 2012
By Phred - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Now that I have read this book, (Kindle edition) and seen the play, I am ready render my thoughts.

In short from: this is a much better play to watch than it is to read. Nowhere in the text is the pointed wit of an Oscar Wilde or the deep sophistication of a Tom Stoppard. The words are simple and as a read it is somewhat limp. As a performance, these problem disappear.

Sarah Ruhl's play takes place in two rooms, sometimes simultaneously. Mostly we are in the front room of the home/office of Dr. and Mrs Givings. The "Next Room" is his medical office. Dr. Giving's practice may include a variety of mostly female medicine as practiced in America, in the 1880's but here we only see him providing one service. He treats mostly women, and on rare occasion men for hysteria.

Note that the word hysteria is from a Greek root meaning uterus.

At this time a new machine, called the vibrator had been introduced for the purpose of treating female hysteria by inducing a paroxysm. There was, in America, at that time no medical notion of a female orgasm.

And so Dr. Givings uses vibrators on women, and one man to relive their medical symptoms. He seems to have the notion that this treatment, improperly applied is onanism (masturbation also a huge evil at this time) however he never connects his treatment with anything sexual. Over time Mrs. Givings tries to understand what is happening in The Next Room and to come to terms with her need for romance and sex.

There is humor here in the form of the women, not realizing just what they are experiencing. There is humor in the "vibrator play" that take place in "the other room". There is an especially humorous moment when the women, confronted with the idea that these paroxysm, can be achieved during married sex and they are horrified! That sex should be pleasurable is not even imaginable.. "my husband is so considerate he only comes into my room when I am nearly asleep and tells me not to look"

At it's core this is a play about the thin line between ignorance and innocence. The women are innocent of their sexuality. One is a lesbian and has no way to understand or cope with this. The possibility of sex as both pleasure and an animal experience has no language among the cast. Dr. Givings seems to be ignorant of what he is doing, although he knows he is making people better. While he has a romantic side he has totally suppressed it in favor of what his machines can do.

Should you get this book?
I am glad that I had read it before going to a production. I liked reading it more, in part, because the live performance, made live the text and I did not have to worry over the occasional missed word. Some do not like a pre-event read because of the spoiler effect.
If you are good at reading a play and seeing the performance in your minds eye. You should enjoy this text.

There is humor here, there is legitimate history and a deep appreciation of humanity.

I had not understood why this was a prize winning play, and then I saw it and now I 'get it".

Likely it was my fault that the text seemed a bland read. If you are a more imaginative reader you may be glad that you read it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So much fun!!!! Aug. 6 2013
By Gentileschi - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed reading this great play. It was extremely fun and sexy without sacrificing many opportunities to comment on serious questions of sexual expression, reproductive health, and structured family interactions across race, class, and gender -- although these interactions may be slightly oversimplified at times. If you are interested in "In the Next Room," I would also recommend Caryl Churchill's brilliant "Cloud Nine," of which this play is reminiscent.
5.0 out of 5 stars Not perverse but touching and personal as no machine ever could be March 27 2014
By Salvatore Talluto - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This play is about the mechanics of life and the metallic, inanimate feeling of going through the motions. Through the play we see all of the different jolts and sparks that animate us, invigorate us, and light up the darkened shadows in our lives: true, genuine, sincere, embarrassingly sloppy and sanguine human interaction. From sunsets to snowfalls we see our vision of beauty, or lack thereof, colored and outlined by our relationships with others. Wonderful play!
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully touching play! Dec 23 2011
By MLR - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Pleasently surprised with this play! Well developed characters with a beautiful subplot. Interesting historical medical use of a machine that has changed how today's culture approaches sex and intimacy.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written play April 24 2013
By Alexandra Boule-buckley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
There's a reason this play was nominated for the Pulitzer. The writing is beautiful, the characters rich, the story moving. Well worth the read.

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