By Mira Saraf
I must admit when I first found out that Red Light District‘s …la ronde… was playing at Wicked Club, I was apprehensive about going. I’ve never been to a hedonist club before, and the entertainment they offer isn’t quite my thing. I wasn’t sure what to expect.
We walked into a brightly lit main room peppered with lace-clad people wearing striking pink eye shadow, and peppy top 40 tunes blasting from its speakers. As we had a seat on a glaringly white couch, I heard one of the women who seemed to work there, introduce herself to the people next to me as Robert. As it turned out, most of these people were performers in the play, though they were dressed in the same sensuous garb as Wicked’s employees.
While my friend got our drinks, a man with suspenders and (if I remember correctly) knee-high argyle socks introduced himself as Albert and asked me if I came there often. I laughed and said it was my first time. “Well you look like a regular,” he said, “you know, very sophisticated.” He complimented my scarf and pointing out that he had one too.
As I looked around the room, I noticed that all of these pink eye-shadowed people were mingling with the audience. I really appreciated that they went out of their way to make us feel comfortable. It seemed that like myself, many patrons had never been to the bar, and were feeling similarly nervous.
The play was staged on that main room which, from what I had read, was just a regular place with a bar and room for people to dance. A set of chairs were organized around a birdcage like object, in the main bar area, with a narrow lane leading to the stage. The piece was really performed all over the space – in the birdcage like object, in the areas between seating, on top of the bar, wherever there was place.
These pink eye-shadowed people circulating were later revealed to be the cast members of a series of vignettes about sexual encounters and relationships. In these encounters gender roles were blurred and many different types of relationships were explored. It speaks of the idea of sex of something that is complicated, and definitely not the same for everyone.
These clandestine encounters were punctuated by more peppy music and dance. The cast members not on stage were always in character; subtly enhancing what was on stage through movement and occasionally heckling those onstage.
While definitely not family friendly, the performance was lighthearted and more humorous than pornographic in nature. Sex on stage was simulated in interesting ways, without actual nudity or a great deal of touching.
After the show, they offered us tours of the entire club. Though it’s not my thing personally, it was interesting to see. If you’ve ever wondered what the inside of a hedonist or on-premise club is like, but aren’t prepared to make a Friday or Saturday night trip out, this is a great perk of coming to the show.
For the people not quite into that type of entertainment, it really served to enhance the theme that human sexuality is not black and white. In some ways it was the perfect setting for such a production.
It also illustrates the timelessness of the desires, conflicts and ambiguities that define human sexuality. Though the play was written in the late 1800s (the dialogue occasionally rattled by a bit of outdated slang) it carried many of the overtones of an episode of Sex and the City, completely relatable and without era.
Overall it’s a light and funny evening – very entertaining and it gives you a snapshot into the complexities of sex and attraction. Beauty and attraction is truly in the eye of the beholder, and it’s never simple. …la ronde… gives us something to think about.
-Tickets are $20 in advance, and $25 at the door ($15 for students)
– Tickets may be purchased online for $20