Adult drama on stage raises tough questions

‘The Mystery of Love and Sex’ is offered by Firehouse Theater Company

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Family dynamics have for centuries provided the basis for drama. Playwright Bathsheba Doran gives the audience a contemporary spin as we sit in on a dinner party with decidedly 21st-century elements in Firehouse Theater Company’s regional premiere production of “The Mystery of Love and Sex.” It runs through Oct. 7 at the John Hand Theater in Lowry.

Suzanne Conners Nepi of Highlands Ranch, an active member of Denver’s theater community, said “it’s a timely piece — tackles so many subjects discussed these days …” In the role of Lucinda, Nepi starts out as “a Southern ornamental wife” (and Jewish mother), a free spirit, who “may have married for the wrong reasons.”

Lucinda’s daughter Charlotte (white and Jewish) had defied her parents and turned down opportunities at more prestigious schools to share a college experience at a Deep South university with her roommate and best friend Jonny (black and Christian). He has been almost a family member since childhood.

Their college room is the scene: They have invited Charlotte’s parents, Lucinda and Howard, for dinner (soup and dry bread).

Father Howard writes mysteries and is the subject of Jonny’s college thesis, which offers an analysis ... and issues.

Nepi commented that the play, at times, may show a kindred spirit to Edward Albee’s powerful “Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” in which she has also performed, with its look at a disintegrating marriage.

“It’s thoughtful, perhaps a strain autobiographical … It comes full circle — with all kinds of secrets …”

Described by Firehouse Theater Company as “a compelling, spirited story of intricate relationships, an entertaining and explosive look at race, sexual identity and family dynamics,”

and is now living and working in New York after a period in Los Angeles.

Involvement in a new play is sort of like catnip for an experienced actor. Nepi said she “had found myself in a decent number of classics …” This offers a different sort of challenge for a cast — and for an audience.

BREAKOUT BOX

If you go

“The Mystery of Love and Sex,” produced by Firehouse Theater Company, plays through Oct 7 at the John Hand Theater, 7653 E. First Place in Lowry, Denver. Performances: 7:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: $20-$23, firehousetheatercompany.com, 303-562-3232. Note: due to sexual content, may be inappropriate for children under 13.

Sonya Ellingboe

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