Sex, the Rules Of Delves Way Beyond Sex

There are a lot of shows out there about the contemporary world and our struggle for intimacy. There are a lot of plays out there that examine the post-modern experience and its effect on romantic relationships. These themes, of course, are nearly all encompassing, but the way they are executed onstage can get repetitive and monotonous for someone who frequently finds herself at the theatre. White Rooster Theatre and newfoundlandartistx’s production of Sex, the Rules of is described thus; “four actors play several overlapping characters, struggling for intimacy in the face of illness, grief, faithlessness, boredom, or loneliness.” At the top of the show, we are introduced to two couples, an older couple with “trust” issues and a younger couple embroiled in a series of idiotic fights. This seemed familiar to me for the first five minutes, and then I became instantly engaged and was treated to the most unique piece of theatre I have seen in months.
The actors play several different characters, but also are representative of “innocence”, “experience”, “protectors” and “dependents” and throughout the play the audience is able to see how these concepts interact with one another as the specific characters intertwine. The characters are fluid; four have names, Terrence (Aiden Flynn), Lila (Ruth Lawrence), Gerard (Mark O’Brien) and Molly (Marthe Bernard), but their identities become murky which suggests the dark underbelly of desire and lust, invoking images of incest and sexual fantasy. The world is shifty, but strongly familiar, as though it can permeate between different levels of reality, taking all the characters along for the ride.
The four actors are absolutely phenomenal. Ruth Lawrence is fantastic in her ability to pour so much of Lila’s heart out, and then quickly retreat like a fox into its den. She is on the brink of collapse, and slowly unravels as the play progresses, as she switches from her role as mother to her role as wife and her need for sexual and emotional fulfillment. Marthe Bernard is coy, yet vulnerable, as Molly, the mixed-up girlfriend who bounces between her boyfriend Gerard and his father Terrence. She has a talent for expressing so much with even the slightest of facial expressions. Aiden Flynn gives a captivating performance as Terrence, whose gut (of guilt, grief and illness) seems to be tearing him to pieces every moment. He has a particularly beautiful scene with O’Brien, as Gerard attempts to connect with his father and procure some emotion advice. The scene is simple and spare but captured with perfection the disparity between these two characters. O’Brien was exceptional as Gerard, his simplicity and the honesty in his every movement made it a performance that was stunning to watch.
Lois Brown is an extremely talented writer, the dialogue throughout the play was seamless, and the direction facilitated the entire production in its simple creativity. The only prop used was a single sheet, and with that she was able to evoke every image that she needed to throughout the play.
In all, I would strongly encourage you to check out Sex, the Rules Of in the Fringe Festival this season, and as I left the Bus Stop Theatre at the end of the night, I was left with the impression that if this is the sort of theatre that is coming out of Newfoundland, I need to book myself a flight to Newfoundland. Pronto.
This show is for Mature Audiences Only; 40 minutes; Tickets $10.

Schedule: September 4th The Bus Stop Theatre (2203 Gottingen Street) @ 9:10 PM. September 5th, The Bus Stop Theatre @ 3:20 PM and @ 9:50 PM. September 6th The Bus Stop Theatre @ 2:00 PM.

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