"Orgasms for all the family," is not the usual manner in which way a director might describe his play, but then In the Next Room or the vibrator play is not your usual play. Indeed director Laurence Boswell believes that Sarah Ruhl's play, which contains no fewer than nine orgasms (or "paroxysms") before the interval, is "minute for minute, the most orgasm-saturated play ever written".
The play, set in New York State in the 19th century, looks at the early development of the vibrator as a potential cure for female hysteria. Written in 2009, it seems to have set a trend for 2011 film Hysteria and US TV show Masters of Sex, currently on Channel 4.
Boswell, the artistic director of Theatre Royal Bath's Ustinov Studio, is bringing the play to London and is quick to point out that, although it contains much levity, the cast and crew were at pains to avoid "Benny Hill rear[ing] his head".
There is a serious element to the piece – the relationship between a doctor and his wife and human’s natural desire for intimacy. "Sarah is ultimately writing about… people's desire to be intimate to be close to breakdown the barriers of loneliness and isolation," he says. "The vibrator is just one channel that that happens through. It's a serious play, but joyful, buoyant and brilliantly amusing."
And, being in the St James Theatre so close to some of London's palaces, has Boswell hoping that he might attract one family in particular over the Christmas period – our royal one. "We've got a little seat earmarked for [the Queen] just in case she comes in and an usherette ready to smuggle her out," he says. "It would be great if Philip came, can you imagine him meeting the cast? It would be a perfect opportunity for him to say one of his classic bon mots."
In The Next Room or the vibrator play will be performed at St James Theatre from 13 November – 4 January.
Don't ask Whitey to do something for free
It's not just illegal downloads affecting musicians' incomes, media companies' needs for free content are also reducing their income opportunities. Whitey (a musician whose real name is Nathan White) has written an open letter replying to an employee of a Betty TV, a production company, who wrote to him asking to use some of his music for free.
"Ask yourself – would you approach a Creative or a Director with a resume like that – and in one flippant sentence ask them to work for nothing?" he demands in his reply, which has since gone viral. "Of course not. Because your industry has a precedent of paying these people, of valuing their work… The culturally ingrained disdain for the musician that riddles your profession, leads you to fleece the music angle whenever possible."
"They consistently offer musicians nothing for their work, instead suggesting ‘exposure’ as a form of payment," he adds in a Facebook post. "Well 'exposure' only worked when the masses actually bought music, or if it's attached to a prominent cultural event. This kind of exposure... might as well pay me in Monopoly money."
Baldwin and co grapple with the downside of film stardom
While film stars might seem to have the world at their feet, their search for roles they want to do can be a struggle. It is this theme that Alec Baldwin and James Toback explore in Seduced and Abandoned. Released this week, it’s a documentary of sorts, which sees them travel to the Cannes Film Festival and pitch a movie called Last Tango in Tikrit. "There's this constant musical chairs of casting and people dropping out and coming together and when the whole thing congeals… [you are] 11th on that list," says Baldwin of Hollywood. "Dustin Hoffman once told me – 'Well just remember kid, we're all in line, some of us are just in a shorter line.'"