Until last night, I was a Sex in Seattle virgin.
For anyone unfamiliar with the play, Sex in Seattle is a romantic comedy following the ups and downs in the love lives of four Asian American women, now in its tenth year. The format is similar to an Asian TV drama with episodes that comprise an overall story arc. Currently on episode 19 of 20, it is a local institution approaching its final curtain. Those who follow Asian dramas will also find many similarities, including the dedicated fan base (there were a couple of people in the audience that had attended every episode), and the fact that it is hard to join the story in the next to last episode.
Despite the short back story offered at the beginning of the play, without the benefit of the previous 18 episodes, “The One Who Got Away” felt superficial, flat, and surprisingly empty. This episode opens with each character being asked what it means to be “with the person of your dreams,” and also, “how will you know” if they are (or are not). Within a few minutes from the opening, the characters establish themselves as familiar stereotypes: The Virgin, The Hot Mess, The Nympho, and The Bimbo, all of whom are second-guessing their relationship choices and going down the road of what-ifs. Perhaps unfairly, I arrived with certain expectations for my first time. I wanted more from an Asian American production featuring Asian American characters. I left feeling like the production squandered some opportunities to examine real issues of race, culture, gender, and sexuality in the Asian American community.
But if you’re looking for a bit of lighthearted escapist fluff, this is the show for you. The actors are funny, enthusiastic about the play (and considering the number of episodes, act with freshness), and accessible (the Q&A after the 8 p.m. show on Fridays is a fun bonus). The dramatic direction and the simultaneous juggling of multiple storylines are well-executed. In the end, like every good Asian drama, you just have to know what happens next. Will Elizabeth finally have sex and work out all of her frustrated sexual energy? Will Jenna finally make some decisions about her baby daddy and which person she really wants to be with or if she wants to be with anyone? Will Tess stop having sex long enough to actually think about what she wants out of a relationship? Will Chloe actually get a clue?
Stay tuned to find out in the finale, Episode 20. In the meantime, you have through the end of April to check out Episode 19.
Sex in Seattle Episode 19: The One Who Got Away, 2 shows: 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays through April 30 at Richard Hugo House,1624 – 11th Avenue on Capitol Hill. $15 for 8 p.m. shows/$10 for 10 p.m. shows, discounts for seniors/students/actors/groups. For tickets and more information, visit www.sexinseattle.org. For advance tickets, go to [email protected] or brownpapertickets.com/event/156456