Coming Out Kinky

Coming Out Kinky: A Grown Up Story

Reviewed by Paul Birchall

Promenade Playhouse
Through June 8

Photo by Benjamin Brooks

Photo by Benjamin Brooks

  • Coming Out Kinky: A Grown Up Story

    Reviewed by Paul Birchall

     

     

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    There’s a quote, attributed either to Oscar Wilde or Queen Victoria or to the turn-of-the-20th century actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell, and it goes something like, “I don’t care where people make love, just as long as they don’t do it in the streets and frighten the horses!” 

     

     

    Well, the horses are pretty much gone from the streets in this modern world; not so the rumpy pumpy. And people such as writer-actor Jean Franzblau in her solo show are still talking about it.

     

     

    In this collection of monologues, Franzblau, a cheerful, upbeat and genial performer who looks anything but kinky, describes her journey of sexual awakening and self-awareness.  It’s quite an engrossing tale and even the “dirty bits” possess a certain universal quality – who doesn’t consider themselves a freak behind doors, after all? 

     

     

    What elevates Franzblau’s solo show above the routine patter of most showcase performances is the almost unnervingly personal nature of the material:  Metaphorically, at least, Franzblau opens herself waaay up to the audience, describing her most intimate longings and passions. And, while the show has no physical nudity, the fact that Franzblau’s inner desires are so nakedly displayed makes some moments uncomfortable and fascinatingly truthful.  Some of Franzblau’s monologues possess a certain 50 Shades of Grey steaminess – but with a sophisticated awareness that the attempt to translate sexual longing to a crowd of strangers contains an element of silliness. 

     

     

    The play opens with Franzblau recounting a conversation with her mother, who asked why she had broken up with a certain seemingly perfect boyfriend. Franzblau was reluctant to tell mom the truth – that she’d simply wearied of being the “submissive” in a full-time S&M romance, complete with spankings, doggy collars, and mysterious concepts such as “submissive space.” 

     

     

    This prompts Franzblau to commence an analysis of her romantic life, which sprawls from her being turned-on by watching high school boys wrestle, to her evolution from submissive to ferocious dominatrix. 

     

     

    In director Karen Aschenbach’s crisp staging, Franzblau’s rendition of her story boasts crisp comic timing, as well as a thoughtful undercurrent of melancholy, as evidenced in the play’s theme of someone trying to connect on an emotional level but being short-circuited by the merely physical. 

     

     

    The play’s autobiography never truly answers the question of whether someone can fill the emotional void with just sex, but the very lack of an answer is perhaps an answer in and of itself. For her part, Franzblau’s engaging onstage persona – alternating a cheerful open character with occasional instances when her friendly mask slips long enough for us to glimpse the wanton within – is quite winning. 

     

     

    Promenade Playhouse, 1404 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica; Sun., 7:30 p.m.; through June 8.  (800) 838-3006, http://comingoutkinky.brownpapertickets.com