When Charlene (Ayanna Berkshire) writes, “He was throbbing and out of control,” she is not talking about a man who just hammered his thumb. No, Charlene, a single mom with two teenagers, is a talented screenwriter who pens feminist erotica screenplays for a small film company. She’s on deadline, with only 14 pages to go, when her daughter Leslie-Ann (Treasure Lunan) decides to push Mom’s buttons. She wants to go out. Charlene says no. As they argue, the voices in Charlene’s head (Eleanor O’Brien and Eric Newsome) resume their Mature-Audiences-Only activities.
Paula Vogel, whose 1994 play Hot ‘N’ Throbbing is available as a podcast from Profile Theatre On Air, is a master of injecting side-splitting moments into what otherwise present as escalating and tragic events. Her finest hour for this arguably is Baltimore Waltz. Yet, if that is the case, Hot ‘N’ Throbbing is a close second as it deftly weaves its way through the all-too-familiar tale of domestic violence, this one with voiceovers.
Leslie-Ann wants to go to Lisa’s. Her brother Calvin (Zak Westfall) doesn’t want to go anywhere. Somehow, after much teenage angst and hilarity, both of Charlene’s kids leave the house and she settles in for an evening of imagined sex. And then, there’s a knock at the door. It’s Clyde (Bobby Bermea), Charlene’s estranged husband.
The play lends itself to the audio-only format, with deft directing by Jamie M. Rea, an excellent cast, and great sound effects. It’s an edge-of-your-seat, fully realized production in which every detail large and small works toward the tense conclusion. Speaking for myself, I didn’t even miss the visuals!
The design and production crew include Casi Maxwell Pasilio and Jana Crenshaw, sound design; Lo Steele, original songs and performance; Jana Crenshaw, additional compositions and performance; Casi Maxwell Pasilio, audio engineer; Carol-Ann Wohlmut, associate production manager; Anthony Proctor, graphic illustrator; Jamie M. Rea, line producer. Tickets are available here.