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On the same night as the UK premiere of the new movie Sex And The City 2, sex really burst on the stage in the Cathedral City of Lichfield at the opening of The Blue Room at the Garrick Theatre.
This steamy drama, adapted by leading British dramatist Sir David Hare from a banned play by Arthur Schnitzler, gives a surprisingly contemporary feel to the exploration of sexual relationships.
Ty Glaser and Robert Curtis have a host of TV and acting credits between them and play five parts each, demonstrating an extraordinary roller coaster of emotions and physical contact.
Ty moves from naïve coquette to mature woman with extraordinary ease showing an accomplished ability to change accent and mannerisms while dressing, undressing and lying on beds.
Similarly, Robert Curtis demonstrates total control of his characters from rough and ready cabbie to sophisticated aristocrat.
The intense atmosphere generated in the small studio enhances the intimacy and sexual power of the play where full frontal nudity seems a natural part of the proceedings.
In the London version Nicole Kidman acquired notoriety by showing her bottom but surely is eclipsed by the exposure of Ty's pert parts.
In the end the play is the thing and the virtuosity of the performers and the taut nature of the direction make this an unmissable drama famously described as ‘pure theatrical Viagra'.
Presented by the acclaimed Garrick Rep Company the show runs until 5th June.
This is sex in the city - Lichfield style as the whole world seemingly passes through a bewildering array of beds two by two in a play where interest has always been more about the sensual than the intellectual.
Sir David Hare's 1998 play is based loosely on Arthur Schnitzler's 1900 work La Ronde which was banned on its first public performance in Vienna in 1921 - a state of affairs which gains any play notoriety and ticket sales.
Schnitzler was a doctor and his play was intended to highlight the meaningless, physical relationships enjoyed by Viennese society and how they spread syphilis and dehumanised relationships in their mechanical chain of debauchery. Not a lot of laughs there, then.
Thankfully the updated version adds humour to the mix of nudity and mattress Olympics - all tastefully done of course with strategically held duvets, dimmed lighting and darkness for the more intimate moments - although our student character does manage one ace of spades moment... you need to see it rather than have it explained, trust me.
The play is ten scenes of sexual encounter between ten unrelated couples. There is no narrative, no plot, just ten sexual sketches with the only link being that we follow one character from the previous scene.
Even then there is no link beyond having met one character before as only with the politician and his wife is there any hint at a reference to a previous scene when she asks him about cheating and he tries reach an arrangement with a mistress.
The scenes examine relationships, feelings and betrayals. Despite having ten to go at every one of the relationships goes as far as it can yet still remains unfulfilled. Whatever the two characters in each liaison were seeking they never find it. All they find is sex.
The excellent Ty Glaser (Hotel Babylon, Bones) and Robert Curtis (Hamlet/RSC/BBC) play all the parts with a helpful back projection introducing each couple so we know who we - or at least they - are dealing with, starting with the cabbie and the prostitute.
The play also had a useful sort of rule of thumb - or similar - marking system based on duration which sadly failed for part of the Press night. But then we have all have those sort of moments when the big night comes.
The cabbie meets up with an au pair, she ends up in bed with a student, the son of the house where she works, who has a relationship with a politician's wife.
She in turn has sex with her husband - a novelty in itself in The Blue Room. The politician finds a model, the model ends up in bed with a playwright, the playwright beds an actress who has an aristocratic admirer and the aristocrat ends up passed out in the bedroom of our original prostitute - the sexual circle is complete.
Miss Glaser is in her first professional stage role having worked in the past in film and TV and seems to take to the boards as a duck to water managing to distinguish between her five roles with a variety of accents, mannerism and clothes and relating that to an audience.
The task is not as easy for Curtis where distinguishing between a senior politician in the Government and an aristocrat, for example, was never going to be an easy task which is perhaps why he throws himself so enthusiastically into the role of Robert Phethean the playwright with an overinflated ego and overblown vocabulary.
His characters, all male obviously, have a different slant. There is no vulnerability nor idea of being used here just an array of characters championing hypocrisy, ego and conquest.
The Blue Room as a play when it first opened was overshadowed by the sight, in dim light, of Nicole Kidman's bum and Miss Glaser's equally attractive derriere will probably, quite rightly, receive similar attention but nudity and sex on stage hardly shock any more and perhaps what we are left with is Schnitzler's original message that promiscuous relationships, that sex for the pleasure of notches on a bedpost is all meaningless. Because it is a series of sketches none of the characters is allowed to develop. All we see are snapshots which, rather like the relationships unfolding before us, tends to leave you unsatisfied. But perhaps that was the point.
by Phil Preece
The Garrick Rep Company's latest offering, hot on the heels of other notable successes like Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and The Entertainer is a real sizzler.
Based on Schnitzler's 1900 play La Ronde award-winning playwright David Hare's version The Blue Room with Nicole Kidman caused a sensation in 1998 for its nude scenes. There were no riots on the First Night at the Garrick Studio but be prepared, there is a bare backside in the first three minutes and plenty more full frontal after that. If you're easily offended, stay away.
Because this is a play about sex, pure and simple, using a clever device that lets its two actors depict a wide range of characters starting with a prostitute and a cabby, who goes on to partner an au pair - A sleeps with B, who goes onto C, and so on, depicting sexual behaviour up and down the social scale.
Set in a time when, as Quentin Crisp put it the classes never mingled except in bed Schintzler's original play, La Ronde, was actually about the dangers of catching STDs. But times have changed, and in this new translation the sexual Merry Go Round becomes more of a naughty romp.
It's a huge challenge for its two actors though, calling on them to depict a range of characters spanning every level of society. The fabulously attractive Ty Glaser who plays all the women is quite simply a West End goddess while Robert Curtis athletically manages to capture the tired boy in every man. If there's a message it's that romance and sex are not the same thing. Director Alasdair Harvey agrees. "That's what the whole play is about," he says.
A grown-up evening, not quite good clean fun but that isn't really a problem. It's slick, it's stylish, it's realistic, and it's funny. Give it a go if you like theatre that's live, jumping and red, red hot.
The pre-show publicity to promote The Blue Room lived up to its word and pulses certainly raced with the production of this powerful and sensual play.
Based on Arthur Schnitzler's La Ronde, which played to great scandal when it was first performed in 1912, David Hare's acclaimed adaptation brings this particular love story up to date, and loses none of its power or controversy.
The play is divided into 10 scenes and each scene holds two characters (always male and female) and their sexual encounter. The following scene contains one character of the previous scene and a new one.
The scenes progress until in the 10th the gap closes and the original character ends up with the last.
Clever use of lighting, music and a serious number of props ensures it is fast-paced and less about the nudity than the search and the mix of characters.
You just feel you are beginning to understand the relationship building before you when you are moved into the next.
The Lichfield Garrick Rep Company continues to attract nationally acclaimed actors. Ty Glaser, who played The Girl, The Au Pair, The Married Woman, The Model and The Actress and Robert Curtis, who played The Cab Driver, The Student, The Politician, The Playwright and The Aristocrat were superb.
The elements of humour were used to great effect. Both actors, who were on stage the whole time, worked exceptionally hard in what were obviously very demanding roles.
The Garrick Studio was an ideal venue for The Blue Room, which certainly pushed the boundaries of drama in the local area.
An explicit play has been the talk of theatre-goers at the Lichfield Garrick this week.
Not suitable for under 16's, The Blue Room is a highly-charged play charting a series of dangerous liaisons, crossing social divides. Made famous a decade ago by Nicole Kidman, whose nude scene sparked acres of national press coverage, the play is still linked to its West End incarnation.
Based on Arthur Schnitzler's Der Reigen - more usually known as La Ronde - which played to great scandal when first performed in 1912, David Hare's acclaimed adaptation brings the sensual story up-to-date but retains its flirtation with controversy.
"It's an exciting piece of theatre," said director Alasdair Harvey, before the Lichfield Garrick Rep Company's show opened last Friday. "When you consider the original production was closed down by the police in 1921 and the actors brought to trial on charges of obscenity, I'm curious to see how today's modern audience will receive it. I think the Lichfield audience will be up for it."
That assessment seems to have been right on the money - packed audiences have flocked to the Garrick's studio to see the play. An assessment of love and lust, The Blue Room stars Ty Glaser and Robert Curtis. Ty has a wealth of TV credits to her name, including Above Suspicion, Hotel Babylon and The Bobby Moore Story. Robert Curtis has just finished filming Doctor Who spin-off The Sarah Jayne Adventures.