Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sell/Buy/Date *** B

It’s hard to believe that 12 years have passed since I first saw the incredibly talented Sarah Jones perform “Bridge & Tunnel,” her love letter to the immigrants of New York City, in which she created about a dozen characters of different ethnicities. It moved to Broadway and was awarded a special Tony. Since then, Ms. Jones has been busy with a variety of activities, including serving as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and advocating for women in the sex industry. When Manhattan Theatre Club announced her long-awaited return to the New York stage, it was cause for celebration. Once again Ms. Jones plays multiple characters, loosely connected by some involvement in selling or buying sex. The framing device has a British professor at some future time giving a lecture on changing attitudes toward sex work over the decades. Her lecture is enhanced by BERT (bio-empathetic resonant technology) which presents her students (and the audience, of course) with not only the words, but also the emotions and memories of each research subject. Most of the characters are vividly created and some of the points they make are thought-provoking. The lecture is punctuated by several interruptions during which the professor attempts to resolve a problem that is delaying her appointment as head of a new department. I thought this subplot undercut rather than enhanced the main idea. Dane Laffrey’s elegantly simple set is beautifully lit by Eric Southern. Carolyn Cantor is the director. While is was a great pleasure to see Sarah Jones again, I was slightly disappointed by the material. Running time: 85 minutes, no intermission.

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