Written by Byron Nilsson
Directed by David Baecker
15 Vandam Street
Review by Michelle Zigas
The Gift of Porn Caroline Lawton, David Sedgwick, Jefferson Slinkard and Kate Hettesheimer in Byron Nilsson's Mr. Sensitivity (photo: John Quilty).
Byron Nilsson’s Mr. Sensitivity,
a modern farce at the 2009 FringeNYC, showcases the collision of
fantasy with reality when the lives of an ordinary urban couple become
entangled with that of famed porn star Barry Woodman. After meeting
Woodman at the local gym, the male half of the couple hires the actor to
perform as a birthday present for his wife — a last-ditch attempt to
revive his 10-year marriage.
a small set that recreates the living room of a young, upscale
professional couple, the play opens with a lewd line from Woodman
(played by Jefferson Slinkard). Woodman’s bawdy persona juxtaposes
nicely with Grady (David Sedgwick), a tech magazine editor whose
inward-facing, repressed personality becomes all the more evident during
their uncomfortable interaction.
initially repelled by her husband’s misguided attempts to save their
marriage, Tiffany, a high-maintenance, type-A professional (embodied
nicely by a high-energy Caroline Lawton), eventually finds herself
warming to the prospect of a rendezvous with the adult film actor.
Meanwhile, Woodman’s girlfriend, Kim (played with verve and wry charm by
Kate Hettesheimer) seems the only character with a normal reaction to
her fiancée’s infidelity: Upon discovering Woodman’s potential
indiscretion, she becomes livid. Her ensuing monologues are edgy and
profane, and capture the complex brutality of romance.
show is often laugh-out-loud funny, and the performances and writing
energetic. Filthy dialogue is woven into a fast-paced interplay of
clever, dirty one-liners, mostly courtesy of Woodman, whose alternate
career goals include jobs as a couples’ therapist or a poet. Slinkard’s
Woodman appears as a cross between an iconic film star and “The Big
Lebowski’s” the Dude, a larger-than-life persona who riffs extensively
and explicitly on various aspects of sexual acts.
and Sedgwick’s repartee is among the play’s highlights. Though
Woodman’s excessive raunchiness just skirts the border of overkill
toward the middle of the play, a vibrant cast and some tight writing
allows the show to achieve a well-told, human tale and a number of