In the Next Room, or the vibrator play

by  Sarah Ruhl

Full Length Play, Dramatic Comedy  /  3m, 4f

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.



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In the Next Room, or the vibrator play

by  Sarah Ruhl

License Estimator

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  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    3m, 4f
  • Duration

    Duration

    More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre

    Subgenre

    Period, Docudrama/Historic
  • Accolades

    Accolades

    From Broadway
  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Adult

Additional Info

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 perfect, well-to-do Victorian home, proper gentleman and scientist Dr. Givings has innocently invented an extraordinary new device for treating "hysteria" in women (and occasionally men): the vibrator. Adjacent to the doctor's laboratory, his young and energetic wife tries to tend to their newborn daughter—and wonders exactly what is going on in the next room. When a new "hysterical" patient and her husband bring a wet nurse and their own complicated relationship into the doctor's home, Dr. and Mrs. Givings must examine the nature of their own marriage, and what it truly means to love someone.

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Accolades

  • Winner! 2010 Will Glickman Award for Best New Play to Premiere in the Bay Area!

    Sarah Ruhl is the 2003 recipient of the Whiting Award for Drama

Reviews


"Insightful, fresh and funny, the play is as rich in thought as it is in feeling...one of the most gifted and adventurous American playwrights to emerge in recent years...In the Next Room is a true novelty: a sex comedy designed not for sniggering teenage boys — or grown men who wish they were still sniggering teenage boys — but for adults with open hearts and minds." - The New York Times

"A play that's smart, delicate and very, very funny!" - New York Post

"If Henrik Ibsen and Oscar Wilde had decided to collaborate on a post-modern drawing-room comedy, the hotsy-totsy twosome surely would have turned out something very much like Sarah Ruhl's genuinely hysterical new work" - TheatreMania

"Sarah Ruhl, whose previous work I execrated, has written a smart, charming, iridescently funny-serious jewel...As Ruhl traces it with wit and insight, and without the slightest prurience, the birth of this new era gives rise to colorful events, astute psychological revelations and endearingly apt dialogue." - Bloomberg

"The playwright mines her subject for suitably bawdy humor without resorting to vulgarity. But what really gives the work its distinction is its sensitive exploration of the physical and emotional repression suffered by the women of the era, which has yet to disappear entirely....The play beautifully balances its humor and pathos." - Hollywood Reporter

Videos

  • Spotlight on In the Next Room
  • Excerpt of Lincoln Center's In the Next Room
  • Excerpt of Lincoln Center's In the Next Room
  • Excerpt of Lincoln Center's In the Next Room
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Considerations

Performing Groups

  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Professional Theatre

Cautions

  • Caution Intense Adult Intense Adult Themes
  • Caution Nudity Nudity/Partial Nudity

License details

  • Minimum Fee: $125 per performance

Production

Details

  • Time Period: Victorian (British and American)
  • Duration: More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Setting: A prosperous spa town outside of New York City, perhaps Saratoga Springs. The dawn of the age of electricity; and after the Civil War; circa 1880s.
  • Features / Contains: Period Costumes

Music

  • Musical Style: N/A (Not a musical)
  • Vocal Demands: N/A (Not a musical)
  • Chorus Size: N/A (Not a musical)

Casting

3m, 4f
DR. GIVINGS - a man in his forties, a specialist in gynecological and hysterical disorders.
CATHERINE GIVINGS - his wife, a woman in her late twenties.
SABRINA DALDRY - his patient, a woman in her early thirties.
ANNIE - a woman in her late thirties, Dr. Giving's midwife assistant.
LEO IRVING - Dr. Giving's other patient, an Englishman in his twenties or thirties.
ELIZABETH - an African-American woman in her early thirties. A wet-nurse by default.
MR. DALDRY - Sabrina Daldry's husband, a man in his forties or fifties.
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Cast Attributes

  • Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle)
  • Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle)

Resources

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Authors

Sarah Ruhl

Sarah Ruhl’s plays include How to Transcend a Happy Marriage, For Peter Pan on her 70th Birthday, The Oldest Boy, In the Next Room, or the vibrator play, The Clean House, Orlando, Late: a cowboy song, Dear Elizabeth and Stage Kiss. She is a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and a Tony Award nominee. Her plays have been ...

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In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play premiered at Berkeley Rep and subsequently marked Sarah Ruhl's Broadway debut opening at the Lyceum Theatre on November 19th, 2009.

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