“Five Times in One Night” is a two-person comedy that uses a different lens to examine sexual relationships through the ages. Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater creatively presents the drama’s five vignettes, each with varying levels of intimacy, intensity and humor.
Playwright Chiara Atik’s play spans the length of humanity, starting with the only two people left on earth after an apocalypse, to a medieval love affair, along with two modern relationships, finally ending with Adam and Eve.
The first scene opens with what appears to be a junkyard, as the last people on earth scavenge for useful items. It’s been 19 months since humanity’s near demise and humorously, the dreadlock-wearing Djuna (Drew Lewis) wants to “check in” with Mel (Lacy Allen) to see how she is currently fairing.
After beating around the bush, “for the sake of humanity” he finally asks if she will repopulate the earth with him. Reminiscent of some awkward one-sided high school crush, Mel tells Djuna not to take it personally, but she wouldn’t have sex with him even if he was the last man on earth.
Atik’s contemporary use of language unites all of the comic skits and is especially humorous with the parody of real-life, medieval French scholars Heloise and Abelard, whose illicit relationship is played out through letters that evolve into a funny text-message format.
As Abelard and dressed in long robes, Lewis formally introduces himself through written “missives” and brags that he is a graduate of “Notre Dame Class of 1100.” The witty approach instantly contemporizes the dialogue, creatively poking fun at braggadocios intellectuals, while simultaneously examining the absurdly formal courtship of the 1100s.
In a modern-day scene, a married couple with a baby come to terms with their lackluster sex life. With her husband pushing her to talk about what would satisfy her in bed, Allen, playing the wife, evasively exclaims, "Babe, we have two more episodes of 'The Wire!' We could be done tonight!" Here, through a combination of heated debate and humor, the play touches upon pornography, sexual fantasies and the need for an open and honest dialogue in any relationship.
Allen and Lewis expertly play the various couples, quickly shifting into each new role. In every scene, Allen and Lewis effortlessly change direction, convincingly creating a new sexual dynamic with amorous feelings being turned off or on according to the current skit.
With tight direction from RJ Tolan, the actors capture the play’s many subtleties with their excellent comic timing.
Surprisingly, quick costume changes (designed by Audrey Nauman) are done right on stage, with the added benefit of the audience witnessing each transformation. With no intermission, the comedy’s momentum isn’t lost during the 90-minute play.
The scenic design by Christopher Ostrom mirrors the contrasting storylines of the play. An imposing black bookshelf frames the stage, with sections showcasing elements from each scene, like a miniature apple tree for Adam and Eve and a Madonna statue representing Heloise and Abelard.
WHAT’s “Five Times in One Night” is an amusing and provocative commentary on sex and our desire for intimacy.
Be warned, some of the scenes contain very graphic language.
“Five Times in One Night”
At Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater
Through July 20
Information and reservations: 508-349-9428