Play: Sex and Violence
Playwright: Ronnie Larsen
Story: Sex and Violence, by Ronnie Larsen, is a play inspired by the real life story of a New York transsexual who kept a corpse in her closet for 20 years. Jack Shepard, a successful writer, goes against the wishes of his publisher and begins to research the "corpse" story for a possible book. His journey takes him places he never thought he'd go and the closer he gets to finishing his book the closer he comes to losing his life.
Six different people; a power-mad publisher, his headstrong wife, a New York street thug, two tough-as-nails transsexuals and a writer looking for his next best-seller all come together in one story but only one of them actually lives to write the book. What begins as a simple story about a writer looking for his next subject evolves in to a twisted tale of greed, power, love and lust ending in a shocking and bloody climax that involves body parts, a chainsaw, and garbage bags dripping with blood.
Length: 90 minutes
History: Began life in Chicago as part of a play called The Risk of Being Cruel. That play was cut in to pieces. One half wound up as Sleeping With Straight Men and the other half is now Sex and Violence.
Produced Cities: Chicago (as part of long since dismantled The Risk of Being Cruel), Florida.
Audio Description: There is currently no audio description.
Video: There is currently no video.
This time it’s a new play
By WARREN DAY
Part of the reason to see the world premiere of a play is to catch it in its embryonic stage, to see it try and obtain its sea legs as it makes its first journey from page to stage.
The Empire Stage Theater in Fort Lauderdale, a theater that often presents works of interest to the LGBT community, is now offering the world premiere of “Sex and Violence,” by Ronnie Larsen.
“Making Porn” may be Larsen’s most famous play, but he’s also written “10 Naked Men,” “Sleeping with Straight Men,” and “Cocksucker: A Love Story.” Obviously he knows his audience (which is why some nudity is usually thrown in).
He uses as his inspiration point the true story of a New York transsexual who kept a corpse in her closet for over 15 years. Larsen combines that 1979 story with a 2011 one about a writer struggling with writers block as he tries to find the subject matter for his second bestseller. Needless to say, sex, violence and laughter is the result.
Ronnie Larsen says this play is about, “money, desperation, loneliness, gender, book publishing, marriage, commitment, fear, murder, love, sex, violence.” Therein lies the problem. It’s about too many things, particularly for a play that’s supposed to be less than 90 minutes long. It scatters its shots and loses sight of any single target.
The playwright currently lives in Mexico and hasn’t seen this first-time production, and that hurts, because any writer will make changes once he sees his work in full performance – some scenes will be tightened, some expanded, and others dropped altogether.
Dressed in a form that’s part theaterof- the-absurd, part Texas chainsaw splatter movie (or what the French called Grand Guignol, to give its proper theater lineage), part drag show on the down low, and part satire on all of the above. You admire it for its audacity and energy even if this production fails to hang together.
Jeff Holmes, the director, hasn’t given it the nimble tempo the playwright intended. Again, if Larsen had been present he may have helped Holmes find ways to reduce the costume and furniture changes that halts the pace too often, even if there is a clever selection of recorded songs to cover such moments.
“Sex and Violence” demands brave performances from its actors and this cast gives it their all (and even a couple of the men appear in their all-together).
South Florida theatergoers will recognize some familiar faces, including David R. Gordan, who’s also the founding partner of Empire Stage Theater, and Kitt Marsh who was recently so good in “Fit To Be Tied.”
Even if there are some missteps, do give yourself this rare chance to see the very first production of an original play.
Empire Stage Theater is located at 1140 N. Flagler Drive in Fort Lauderdale.
Tickets are $30 and can be purchased online at www.empirestage.org or at the boxoffice before performances. Runs Thursdays thru Sundays until Feb. 13.
Licensing Availability: Available for production, co-production and/or licensing.
Future: Looking for a city to produce this play in.