The Play’s The Thing: Outrageous Fortune has sex on the brain for 50th show

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Let’s talk about sex. Okay, not as graphically as in the Savage Love advice column in the Village Voice, but enough to hold your attention. Topics guaranteed to generate controversy are sex, politics and religion — often the three go together — but sex is certainly the most entertaining.

Three current things encouraging me to write about sex (not that I need much encouragement) — and keeping in mind the sensitivities of the TimesLedger readers and my editors — are: an April New Yorker cover by Edward Sorel, “Spring has Sprung,” depicting a lot of nude romping in Central Park; the recent revival I saw of “Promises, Promises,” the 1960s musical based on Billy Wilder’s Academy Award-winning film “The Apartment,” about office sex; and this Friday’s opening of The Outrageous Fortune Company’s 50th production, “The Blue Room,” adapted from “La Ronde,” depicting a daisy chain of 10 sexual encounters.

All rather mild and PG-like, I must say, especially compared to what’s now on Manhattan stages, in the movies and on cable television — George Carlin’s great comic routine about the seven words you can’t say on TV now seems kind of dated. Not to mention the celebrity and political sex scandals that bombard us on a regular basis, all the magazines and advertisements of a sexual nature, and, of course, the Internet, which caters to every sexual taste. “The Internet is for Porn” is a song from that hit, not-your-children’s puppet show “Avenue Q” (now playing Off Broadway in a rare move from the Great White Way). They got it right — porn is the biggest money-maker on the Internet. Gambling is second.

America is a rather puritanical country, certainly beyond the Hudson River, although what goes on behind closed doors out in the heartland seems to be another matter. We here in New York are more worldly, perhaps due to our diverse population, with a live-and-let-live attitude.

Which brings me to “The Blue Room,” based on a play written by an Austrian physician, Arthur Schnitzler, at the turn of the 20th century, designed to expose the decadence of society and the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases. It was considered too explicit to be performed, and when it was first presented to the public in 1921, the Vienna police closed it down.

The British playwright and social commentator David Hare has brought the play up to date, setting it in “one of the great cities of the world.” He brings a light and humorous touch to the proceedings while emphasizing the way people act as compared to the way they speak. The Outrageous Fortune Company production features six dynamic actors — Brendan Hunt, Eric Kirchberger, Alain Laforest, Catherine LeFrere, Milada Melli-Jones and Kristen Royal — under the guidance of director Myla Pitt, a Little Neck resident with impressive theatrical credits, who, in her spare time, runs Great Neck Pilates.

This month there’s lots of local theater to see — check out our listings — but when you’re pondering the question “when the moment is right, will you be ready?” be sure to make your first choice “The Blue Room.”

Contact Ron Hellman at

Updated 5:50 pm, October 10, 2011
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