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The Mystery of Love and Sex
a Drama
by Bathsheba Doran

COMPANY : Out Front Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Brady Street Theater [WEBSITE]
ID# 5221

SHOWING : February 01, 2018 - February 18, 2018



Deep in the American South, Charlotte and Jonny have been best friends since they were nine. She’s Jewish, he’s Christian, he’s black, she’s white. Their differences intensify their connection until sexual desire complicates everything in surprising, compulsive ways. An unexpected love story about where souls meet and the consequences of growing up.

Director Amber Bradshaw
Lucinda Tiffany Morgan
Charlotte Rachel Wansker
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


The Tedium of Gratuitously Naked Non-Sexual Love
by playgoer
Sunday, February 4, 2018
Here’s a young black man. Here’s a young Jewish woman, his best friend since childhood and now his girlfriend in college. Here are her contentious parents, the father born Jewish and the mother converted. The father is unconsciously racist and all of them have conflicted feelings concerning homosexuality. Mix together and throw onstage as a play. Such is Bathsheba Doran’s "The Mystery of Love & Sex."

The action purportedly takes place in the South, but there’s not a hint of Southern accents except in a single line when Charlotte (the young woman) mocks one from her mother’s side of the family, and not a jot of costuming or props that suggest the South. It’s one of many directorial missteps taken by Amber Bradshaw in mounting this unsatisfying play.

Set designer Cody Russell has also fallen down on the job, creating a wall of stucco with pasted-on brick accents that is satisfactory neither for the living room scenes nor the backyard scenes. The first scene takes place in a dorm room, with black curtains drawn in front of the wall. A scene in the second act takes place in a hotel room, with no curtain drawn to obscure the wall. Charles Swift’s lighting design creates pools of light for each scene, but the pools don’t always match the stage area in which action takes place. Paul Conroy’s sound design and Troy Meyers’ props are more acceptable, and Eric Griffis’ costumes are fine, if unremarkable.

There isn’t a likeable character in the cast. Charlotte (played by Rachel Wasker) is needy and annoying. Her friend Jonny (played by Terrance Smith) is withholding and passive. Lucinda, the mother (played by the charming Tiffany Morgan), tends to be sour and dismissive. Howard, the father (played by the gratingly actor-y Donald McManus), is just unpleasant all around, but with a good heart underneath, we’re led to believe. When you don’t like or care about the characters in a play, it’s difficult to enjoy.

The first and second acts take five years apart. Ms. Bradshaw has gotten distinct performances out of the two younger performers portraying two different ages, with the five-year-older versions definitely more mature. But by the time we meet them, we’ve already been turned off by their immaturity in the first act, topped by a stereotypical drunk scene. Twenty-year-olds struggling with homosexuality takes up most of the action of the play, and it just isn’t that interesting to hear about. We don’t see any of it; lots of romantic partners are discussed in the dialogue, but never seen. A play where the most interesting action occurs offstage isn’t that engrossing. Add in Max Mattox’s obviously fake fight choreography, and even the onstage action isn’t exciting.

Bathsheba Doran has thrown together a lot of hot-button LGBT, racial, and religious issues and has tried to make a play out of them. She’s certainly chosen topics that resonate with play-choosing committees. But when a play is so clearly constructed to jump on the bandwagon of current trends, it feels manipulative. The mystery of this play is how love and sex and gratuitous nudity can seem so blah onstage. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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