Magazine article American Theatre

7 Blowjobs

Magazine article American Theatre

7 Blowjobs

Article excerpt

The following evening, Sunday, is opening night of 7 Blowjobs, the Mac Wellman satire which won Sledgehammer NEA attention and funding in 1991 - and lost it this year, when their grant was one of only two review-panel recommendations overturned by National Council for the Arts. Managing director Ethan Feerst tries to be circumspect: "One might imagine our proposal to do back-to-back Mac Wellman plays in the context of the election season during the Republican Convention is something... some people... thought better of." (The company produced Wellman's Sincerity Forever earlier in the summer.) Artistic director Feldsher is more direct: "They defunded us for the work we're doing. They want complete control because they want no controversy - in legalese, they don't need the 'downside exposure.'"

What does Jesse want?

What's all the fuss about? Blowjobs's title is the most shocking part of Wellman's play, a polite - if baroque - office comedy about the anonymous delivery of seven obscene photos to the office of Senator Bob (the Rep's Doug Jacobs reprising his original role). Even the dirty pictures in this production are blank pages - emphasizing that pornography, like art, is in the eye of the beholder. The rudest moment comes with the Senator's closing, homophobic rant against his colleagues. (For this remounting, two new names have been added: "Colin Powell? He's a fag. Bob Dole? Fag.")

The show's most radical element may be Robert Brill's set: downstage, an ant farm decorated with miniature monuments; upstage, a window looking onto the same monuments, and a sinister little sandpile leaking though a crack in the walls. …

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