Swinging is by definition a casual-about-sex lifestyle.
The Qualms, in its New York premiere at Playwrights Horizons through July 12th, (so hurry), presents the tantalizing proposition that switching partners is painless and uncomplicated. That this promise of free love appeals to a couple just starting their marriage suggests that this party will inevitably go awry. (The “preview” is here: http://wp.me/p5jq0w-uh.)
Pulitzer-prize winning playwright, Bruce Norris (for Clybourne Park), is a master of the suburban story. In The Qualms, Chris’ (Jeremy Shamos) reluctant participation in Gary (John Procaccino) and Teri’s (Kate Arrington) sexcapades ultimately puts a damper on the proceedings. Chris and Kristy (Sarah Goldberg) are newly weds, who met their hosts on a vacation last winter, and came by to explore this novel option in their relationship.
The regulars at these soirees, Deb (Donna Lynne Champlin), her beau Ken (Andy Lucien), Regine (Chinasa Oginbuagu) are all, with the exception of the macho “alpha male” Roger (Noah Emmerich), welcoming.
Shamos’ Chris practically twitches with the weight of his discomfort and disapproval. Under Pam MacKinnon’s direction, the ensemble is seductively perfect. Kate Arrington is particularly affecting as the surprising Teri.
There are many types of couples. The Qualms focuses on two: those who swap with impunity and those who just can’t adapt to carefree swinging.
While Kristy appears ready to accept the “polyamourous” lifestyle, Chris remains put-off. He may be right. After all, sex with strangers is unlikely to improve matters in a floundering relationship.
Head on over and join the party. Unlike Chris, you won’t be disappointed.
For tickets and information, please visit http://www.playwrightshorizons.org/shows/plays/qualms/
More opinions about this show also here.