The reviews are in for Jungle Theater’s ‘In the Next Room’

Theater critics love a good pun. And so with their reviews for the Jungle Theater’s “In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play)” you can inevitable find a statement along the lines of “play generates a warm buzz” or a mention of how “stimulating” the production was. Puns aside, critics agree this is a show with merit.

The play, set in the Victorian era, involves the use of a new electrical device to treat women – and the occasional man – suffering from carious forms of hysteria. Critics say Sarah Ruhls play is a witty, pithy piece that speaks to issues surrounding intimacy, gender, and the role of technology in our lives.


John Middleton, Annie Enneking and Emily Gunyou Halaas in Jungle Theater’s production of “In the Next Room or The Vibrator Play”

Photo by Michal Daniel

From Graydon Royce at the Star Tribune:

Ah, finally, a play to love — a play to curl up with and relish like a romantic novel on a cold afternoon. Sarah Ruhl’s “In the Next Room, or The Vibrator Play” uses the trappings of 19th-century melodrama to amuse and provoke our 21st-century feelings about the efficacy of science and technology in relieving a most ancient human need: intimacy.


Christina Baldwin as Catherine Givings and John Middleton as Dr. Givings in “In the Next Room” by Sarah Ruhl

Photo by Michal Daniel

From Dominic Papatola at the Pioneer Press:

Ruhl’s script is billed as a comedy, and it has its share of wink-wink, nudge-nudge humor, but she is in search of other objectives here: Her script contemplates gender roles and class, art versus science, and love as a power relationship.

…”In the Next Room” is certainly not a play for the prudish. But if you like your titillation with an edge of intellect, it might just flip your switch.


Emily Gunyou Halaas as Sabrina Daldry and Christina Baldwin as Catherine Givings in “In the Next Room” directed by Sarah Rasmussen

Photo by Michal Daniel

From Ed Huyck at City Pages:

While it can be easy to snicker at the endless corsets the ladies are forced to wear or the “science” that is only a bit removed from leeching blood, Ruhl is also slyly commenting on our modern-day world. After all, if serious candidates for national office can talk about “legitimate” rape and how a pregnancy cannot occur when that happens — well, it seems as if the mental corsets are still there.


Ryan Underbakke as Leo Irving and and Christina Baldwin as Catherine Givings in “In the Next Room”

Photo by Michal Daniel

From Janet Preus at

The set, designed by the Jungle’s artistic director, Bain Boehlke, was a beautifully draped and cushioned 19th-century parlor in inviting colors, adjacent to the doctor’s unfussy “operating theater.” Costumes were just exquisite, with Baldwin and Halaas in bustles, corsets, and hats perched on the edge of piled-high hair. Who would have thought a play about vibrators could be so proper?


John Middleton as Dr. Givings and Christina Baldwin as Catherine Givings and in “In the Next Room” by Sarah Ruhl

Photo by Michal Daniel

From Ellen Burkhardt at Minnesota Monthly:

Called a comedy in its 2010 Tony Award nomination, In the Next Room is indeed funny. But it also is heartwarming, intimate, and sentimental. The last few minutes of this beautiful production are some of the most sincere, passionate moments capable of being produced in live theater, reminding us that love is not only an emotion, but also a decision: whether or not you choose to give and receive it is up to you.

In the Next Room, or The Vibrator Play runs through December 16 at the Jungle Theater in Minneapolis.

Have you seen the show? What’s your review?

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