“The Blue Room” – Nearly Naked Theatre

This review aired on KBAQ March 14, 2011


Nearly Naked Theatre, The Little Theatre at Phoenix Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

The controversial 1921 play “La Ronde” is the source for David Hare’s dry and uninteresting adaptation, “The Blue Room.”  In its day, “La Ronde” was revolutionary because it dealt openly with the game of sex.  Hare’s version is formatted like the original with 10 short playlets.  Each deals with a different sexual liaison involving characters from different social classes.  Today, “The Blue Room” deals with common place occurrences and the long-winded and weakly written characters in each playlet aren’t compelling or engaging.

Two actors, Andrea Morales and William Jones, play all the roles.  While Morales is an engaging performer who differentiates between the diverse women she plays, Jones is not particularly adept at making his characters distinctive.  There’s also no sexual chemistry between the performers, a must for this play to succeed, so the scenes are amazingly dreary to watch.

Performed without intermission, the play is listed as running 100 minutes but because director Damon Dering’s pacing is unusually lethargic, it plods on for over two hours.  It needs a break or must play faster.  Since the material is so bland, though, sparking the material into interesting theater is impossible.

Each piece includes one holdover character from the previous play.  This approach suggests the circular nature of sexual liaisons and the inner relationships of the people involved.  In 1921, this thinking and linking was quite the thing since sexual discussion was pushed to the backroom.  In today’s sexually liberated and more experimental society, the scenes don’t possess new twists on sexual entanglements and too many of the scenes focus on sexual awkwardness.

Like most Nearly Naked Theatre productions, this one has lots of frontal nudity and raunchy language.  Morales tries hard to make her characters interesting and unique.  Since Jones lacks her acting resourcefulness, he doesn’t contribute much.  His complete lack of sexual combustibility flattens his attempts to create the diverse people with any believability.

The over-designed unit set is a huge puzzle that has to be awkwardly pulled apart to create each play’s new locale.  Part of the lengthy running time is spent watching the hardworking crew pull various walls and props on and off to create the scenes and the final results aren’t that intriguing.

Nearly Naked Theatre is one of our most interesting troupes who usually do unique theater with a welcome bit of theatrical panache that’s missing from “The Blue Room.”  It continues through March 26.  For tickets, call the Phoenix Theatre box office at 602-254-2151.

Grade: F