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In the Next Room, or the vibrator play

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4.11  ·  Rating details ·  2,543 ratings  ·  150 reviews
In the Next Room or the vibrator play is a comedy about marriage, intimacy, and electricity. Set in the 1880s at the dawn of the age of electricity and based on the bizarre historical fact that doctors used vibrators to treat 'hysterical' women (and some men), the play centers on a doctor and his wife and how his new therapy affects their entire household. In a seemingly ...more
Paperback, 90 pages
Published June 18th 2010 by Samuel French, Inc.
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Average rating 4.11  · 
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Jane
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Eli
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This play made me realize that reading and reviewing plays is a more difficult proposition than I had imagined. The playwrights I've read and loved—Tom Stoppard, Jen Silverman, Martin McDonagh—all have a wit and lyricism that is easily seen on the page. But there are other playwrights whose skill resides not in any kind of poetic razzle-dazzle, but more in opening up a space onstage for the actors and designers to create something beautiful in their own right.

I think maybe Sarah Ruhl is one of
...more
Linds
A weird, funny, and surprisingly sweet play.
Phillip
Sep 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: drama
The main reason I read this play now is that I am going to try and make the trip to see it performed at Shepherd University in November.
The play is really interesting, set at the dawn of electricity and during a time when psychology was both early and heavily gender biased. There are too many fascinating theoretical issues at work in the play to do justice to all of them, but some are: gender issues manifested in types of authorities over space, power, and knowledge; racial issues and implicit
...more
Jamie
Jun 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Man, Sarah Ruhl is a playwright from heaven. You know a play is spectacular when it's as engrossing to read it as it would be to see it on stage! She pumps her succinct, witty, salient, and entertaining work full of heart and intelligence. This one would be especially excellent in the theater because it relies on simultaneous and alternating action in the living room and "the next room," but as reading material it also moves like a, er, modern-day vibrator? Speaking of, it gave me a deeper ...more
Michael
Sep 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Sarah Ruhl explores female empowerment and sexuality in the age of the dawn of electricity in the play, In the Next Room, or the vibrator play. Based on a true story, Dr. Givings has begun treating women suffering from "hysteria" using a vibrator to bring them to orgasm, thus releasing them from whatever was blocking them from feeling emotion and living full, sexual lives to satisfy their husbands. When Mrs. Givings grows curious about the treatment and longs to experience it for herself, the ...more
Amanda
Jun 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
I did it, I read a play! The only other play I've willingly read was Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two, so this was out of my comfort zone. But I really want to complete the Reading Women challenge and this checks off #8 on the list. Of course I picked a play about sex and vibrators.

It was actually really fascinating, and somehow the stage directions and structure of the set (two rooms in which action happens simultaneously) came off really well on the page.
via
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I BLESS THEE, CATHERINE
Julia (Shakespeare and Such)
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.8/5 stars, full review to come! This play is everything I wanted but didn’t get while reading The Awakening tbh

Plot: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Pacing: 5/5
Writing: 4/5
Enjoyment: 5/5
Sara
Dec 01, 2018 added it
Loved!
Elizabeth☮
Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a play. Two rooms next to one another. In one, a doctor uses a vibrator to treat women dealing with hysteria (this, apparently, was a real medical practice in the 1880’s); in the next room, the doctor’s wife deals with a newborn.

This is a fascinating look at marriage and desire and giving into pleasure. I would love to see a production of this one.
Cynda
Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays, women, humor, technology
5 Stars.

Set in late 19th-century doctor's home and office.

Dramatization of a raucous funny solution-- the over-sized electric-powered doctor-applied vibrator--to a age-old sexual problem: Hysteria.

Why is the doctor's wife standing at the door of the other room, her husband's office? What does she realize? What will she do?

After reading this play, I ordered more plays by Sarah Ruhl. This writer has knocked my socks off. I plan to read 2 or 3 in early November,
Emma Getz
I love love love love love love this play!!!! It’s like if A Dolls House met The Importance of Being Earnest but with an avant-garde feel and way more sexual overtones. The themes of love and female agency were wonderful and I loved the development and portrayal of the characters. It was poignant and charming and the end left me so extremely happy. 10/10 recommend this play!!!
Tabitha
Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful play to be read in tandem with The Yellow Wallpaper. I'm generally not a fan of reading plays--I want to see them performed--but I did very much enjoy reading this. This probably mostly due to the fact that I find women's sexuality, especially in this time period, fascinating. Read this play and then watch an episode of a Girls, and see how far (and not far) we've come....no pun intended.
Black Elephants
Apr 08, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: theatre-plays
I feel like the shock factor is what really makes Sarah Ruhl's play enjoyable. Don't get me wrong: I enjoyed the writing and a lot of the play devices. But in the end, the play is very .... lite. It prods some sensitive areas but mostly just reassures the sensibilities of the audience that we are so lucky to come as far as we have. Ain't that grand?
Sydney Young
Feb 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Very interesting. I knew the fact of how "hysterical" women used to be "treated" so the play didn't teach me anything new, but it is a well fleshed exploration of this historical fact. Still, this play's main theme is about how we humans get love, in all its facets, so wrong and so right. I'd be interested to know how it plays on stage. Seems it would be poignantly funny (is that possible?).
Paul
Nov 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People who: considered themselves feminists (and you really, really should).
A theatrical piece entirely devoted to women embracing their own sexuality, disregarding/outright rejecting patriarchal claims to their bodies, and falling in love with one another in direct contradiction with the heteronormative societal expectations of the time? With a healthy dose of humor sprinkled throughout for good measure?

Sign me up.
Biscuits
Aug 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Ruhl astounds with her quiet-yet-pounding tones and metaphors. Vibrators on stage!
Tom
May 10, 2011 rated it did not like it
I've never seen so many suddenly empty seats after an intermission as I did the night I saw Sarah Ruhl's unspeakable unfunny unplay IN THE NEXT ROOM.
Ryan Gibson
Jan 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Love, love, love. Going to read EVERYTHING by this playwright.
Isabelle Smith
Oct 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
SUBPAR
Phrodrick
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Much better to watch than to read

Now that I have read this book, (Kindle edition) and seen the play, I am ready render my thoughts.

In short from: this is a much better play to watch than it is to read. Nowhere in the text is the pointed wit of an Oscar Wilde or the deep sophistication of a Tom Stoppard. The words are simple and as a read it is somewhat limp. As a performance, these problem disappear.

Sarah Ruhl's play takes place in two rooms, sometimes simultaneously. Mostly we are in the front
...more
Jack Wolfe
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
A few generalizations about contemporary American drama, based on a casual read of 3 contemporary American plays, by Jack W., theatre expert:

1. Contemporary American drama is good! It's not this pit of navel gazing nothingness (see: a whole lot of other contemporary American art forms)! It's a place where you can be entertained! Wow!

2. Contemporary American drama is smart! Modern playwrights have found ways to incorporate "ideas" into plays that feel organic and complex! (Unlike the ideas in
...more
Kate
I haven't read a contemporary (non-Greek classic) play since that last time I was in one, which was 2007. And even then, that was the only non-Shakespearean play I had ever read. So, I have nothing to compare this to, but I did enjoy this, and it was a good intro to a new genre for me.

I first heard of this play during the Tony awards several years ago, when I, like everyone else probably, giggled at the name. At that time I had no idea what it was about, and I didn't until I decided to read it.
...more
Sal
Jun 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
A comedy that touches on male/female dynamics, 19th century sexuality and technology, race, and feminism.

As much as this is a comedy, I think it's also a tragedy in the way that the characters are unable to communicate what it is that really bothers them, nor can they articulate what they want. The ending works out somewhat, so the tragedy doesn't stick arounduntil the end, but I think the historical lens works twofold.

First, we learn a bit about how "hysteria" was treated, which seems
...more
Edward Cheer
Oct 05, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm very conflicted with this review. I did see it performed and I'm still detaching which parts of it I didn't like because of the way the show was staged or because of how it was written. Let's see if we can figure this sh** out.

In the Next Room (or the vibrator play) follows the Mrs. Givings as she struggles a loving relationship with her husband, feeling satisfied with her child, and even with electricity- in some regards. Sarah Ruhl manages to write a feminist piece that communicates a
...more
Hope Smash
Dec 22, 2018 rated it liked it
This was certainly an interesring read. The subject matter has been addressed more of late thanks to shows like Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. I think it is important that we explore these kinds of ideas and have open conversations about it. There were definitely some funny moments and I think it would be entertaining to see it live. I am just unsure if the ending provided a resolution for all the characters. Maybe it's just my modern sensibilities, but the ending was a bit problematic. I felt ...more
Madalyn Weaver-Holland
REREAD. Absolutely hilarious. All throughout the play the dialogue seemed disjointed at times, difficult to follow everyone's train of thought. Almost awkward, but in a way completely separate from the subject matter. Despite that, it really was a fun read, as I had zipped through it the first time for my drama class. This time I got to savor it, and got to know the characters and their personalities (except for Leo... I could never figure him out, though that was probably the point!). ...more
Kaila Tacazon
Dec 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
The idea is really smart: using the victorian era to discuss women and sex today? but the plot and the characters take so damn long to develop and as soon as everything unravels the play is over.. 2010 pulitzer prize finalist? oof. i mean the play is funny sometimes and sarah ruhl is a good writer but this isnt the best work?
Christina
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the most amazing plays I’ve read in a while - the language is so beautiful, each line bursting with drama. The language is spare, but not sterile. Everybody has a distinct way of speaking - the Doctor and his clinical/scientific language, Catherine Givings and her tendency to babble, Leo and his writerly/artistic language and imagery.

Reading Sarah Ruhl is a master class in playwriting.
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Sarah Ruhl (born 1974) is an American playwright. She is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award for a distinguished American playwright in mid-career.

Originally, she intended to be a poet. However, after she studied under Paula Vogel at Brown University (A.B., 1997; M.F.A., 2001), she was persuaded to switch to playwriting. Her
...more
“Do you not think, Mrs. Givings, that snow is always kind? Because it has to fall slowly, to meet the ground slowly, or the eyelash slowly— And things that meet each other slowly are kind.” 5 likes
“Do you think we make sad things into songs in order to hold on to the sadness or to banish it—I think it is to banish the sadness. So then if you write a happy song, is it not sadder than a sad song because by making it you have banished your own happiness into a song?” 3 likes
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