Jane Anderson's 'The Escort' Debuts as Geffen's 'Most Provocative' Play

Maggie Siff and James Eckhouse at the Geffen Playhouse in the world premiere of Jane Anderson's 'The Escort.'
Maggie Siff and James Eckhouse at the Geffen Playhouse in the world premiere of Jane Anderson's 'The Escort.'

The Geffen Playhouse has officially debuted playwright Jane Anderson's latest work, "The Escort," and opening night was a star-studded evening that stretched well into the wee hours of the next morning way after the curtain closed.

"The Escort" is not a play about a whorehouse or the series of events that go down (pun always intended) in the daily life of a New York City call girl. It's a fascinating depiction of a seemingly open-minded family - divorced parents and a 13-year-old prepubescent boy - and how their very different sexual upbringings, hang ups and intolerances are challenged and influenced by a high-class escort who innocently enters their lives.

Jane Anderson's 'The Escort' Debuts as Geffen's 'Most Provocative' Play

Sex. It's embarrassing. It's confusing. But it feels damn good once you figure it out. And the best part? You never stop figuring it out.

As creatures of this universe we utilize all kinds of visual, mental and physical stimuli in order to test our boundaries. How much pain can we handle? How long can we watch that before nausea sets in? How many times can we talk about this before the titillation turns to boredom?

And of those creatures who liken themselves artists, there are forms of media that let us vent our frustrations, explore our curiosities and - most importantly - stretch our comfort zones to see just how much risk we can take before we run for cover with a martini and two cigarettes.

That's where venues like The Geffen come in, embracing these risks in question for the rest of the city to either enjoy or detest, and quite honestly I enjoyed it more than the sex I ended up having the morning after opening night.

The play and its characters inadvertently spend most of the two-plus hours challenging the audience's own sense of shame, liberalism and sexuality. The audience around me squirmed, gasped and giggled at the pseudo nudity, the candid conversations between parent and son, and the saccharine-free language.

The young woman next to me called out in disapproval, clapped her hands, gasped and crossed her legs uncomfortably with almost every scene and all I could wonder was how long it had been since her last mind-blowing orgasm.

The men laughed and called out at very different times than the women. During a father-son talk about condoms, sex and nudie mags the men appreciatively chuckled while the women cackled and grinned ear to ear during a scene in which the mother prepares giddily for a sexual romp with someone half her age.

Gabriel Sunday and Polly Draper at the Geffen Playhouse in the world premiere of Jane Anderson's 'The Escort.'
Gabriel Sunday and Polly Draper at the Geffen Playhouse in the world premiere of Jane Anderson's 'The Escort.'

The audience leaves pondering their own sexual morals, where they came from, and who and what had the most influence over how they currently feel about - and practice - sex. Something that Anderson herself dealt with and graciously admits when asked about the process of writing something so edgy and outspoken.

Listen to Anderson explain her motivations here.

We're more aware of our judgments, our possibly false sense of liberalism when it comes to the topic and the lifestyles to which it leads, and even a little curious to do some Google searching when we get home.

With care to wipe the history bar clean as soon as we're finished, of course.

"The Escort" will be showcased at The Geffen Playhouse until May 8 and is a wonderfully unconventional night at the theater. It was written by Jane Anderson, directed by Lisa Peterson, and stars Polly Draper, James Eckhouse, Maggie Siff and Gabriel Sunday.

The story of "The Escort" is unforgettable and unique and will leave you with more than a temporary tingle in your underpants. Just FYI.


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