By Megan Bowers, For The Miami Student

“The Vibrator Play.” Yes, it’s exactly what you’re thinking.

From the usage of an actual vibrator  to brief male nudity, this play pushes boundaries and incorporates mature content in a way no other Miami University theatre production has before.

But, don’t let these details scare you away — this 19th century play delves into deeper themes of women’s sexuality, motherhood and vulnerability in a composed format.

It was also one of the most beautiful productions I have ever seen.

That may sound weird, but honestly, every part of the show, from the costumes to lighting to the actors’ stage presence, all combined to make an unforgettable opening night.

“I read the script before coming and thought the show would be uncomfortable to watch,” said first-year Mary Yu. “But I felt that everything was done beautifully, and it was very aesthetically pleasing.”

The show, written by Sarah Ruhl, is typically known as, “In The Next Room,” and discusses the early usage of vibrators to cure hysteria.

“This was my most challenging role that I have ever done,” said Theresa Liebhart, who plays Sabrina Daldry. “We had to learn a lot about the 1890s, we had to learn a lot about hysteria and just how we had to be comfortable with the sexuality of it. It just took a lot of practice and research.”

Despite these challenges, the show was still an incredible opportunity for many of the performers.

“It’s just a nice release to be able to get out of your own world for a little bit,” said first-year Abigail Murray, who plays Annie. “You get to step out of your own reality and you only have to worry about what the character is going through and what they have to face.”

It’s clear the actors have all fully embraced their characters from just glimpsing a scene. The elaborate costumes and old-fashioned set pieces take you back to the 19th century, and many of the characters speak with accents that replicate women’s speech patterns during that time. 

The lighting and music seemed to coincide with every scene in very subtle ways. If you paid close attention, the lighting would get darker when the characters were depressed and lighter when they weren’t.

The actors had great timing in the delivery of their lines. The ability of the show to transition from a witty scene that had everyone in the audience cracking up to a touching scene that made you want to cry is part of what makes it so entertaining.

This was something Ann Elizabeth Armstrong, the director, strived for when she staged the show.

“I hope they will laugh,” said Armstrong. “It is a comedy and there’s a lot of irony, but it’s also very touching. There’s some very dark and emotional moments, and there are things about it that are shocking, but also thought-provoking in a really good way.”

The show brought up difficult themes, like not being able to have children, losing a child and not feeling loved, which led to a tragically beautiful ending.

Plenty of comedic moments also came up throughout the show, specifically in the character of Caroline Givings, played by junior Jessica Filkill. The character was bubbly and tended to say everything that came to her mind, causing you to laugh at her general sweetness or the tough situations she found herself in.

Her character, as well as several of the other female leads in the show, provided a charming kind of comedy simply because of the Victorian innocence they displayed when discovering more about their sexuality. 

“The play is set in the 19th century so we can see it as being in the past and having distance, but I really think it speaks to things we experience today,” said Armstrong. “We might laugh about what they didn’t or did think about sex in the 19th century, but we still haven’t totally unlocked that mystery.”

“In The Next Room, or the Vibrator Play” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Oct 23-24 and at 2 p.m. Oct 25 in Gates-Abegglen Theater, in the Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are available at the Box Office.

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