New Century Theatre Company is getting hot and heavy with one of Seattle's Stephanie Timm's new works "Tails of Wasps." Having entered the ACT complex, the audience is set up for a fully encompassing experience; first checked in at a front desk, escorted through "the hotel," and finally keyed into a room by a bellhop who explains that there will be no curtain call. Inside, the audience perches like vultures around the detailed hotel room (nicely designed by Peter Dylan O'Conner), about to be privy to a very intimate behind-the-scenes look into a politician's extra-marital affair. It is the front row seat that you are ashamed to admit you've always wanted. Timm's intelligent and sexy script gives the public a reason why politicians cheat on their perfectly acceptable wives. It doesn't excuse the behavior, but at least you feel like there's something beyond "men are pigs."
Director Darragh Kennan's actors truly live (and love) in the hotel room. Paul Morgan Stetler as Frank, the candidate in question, is charming and handsome, an excellent politician even in his dealings with the women. It's remarkable that despite his inclination for infidelity, you actually feel bad for the guy. Betsy Schwartz as Frank's wife is beyond "perfectly acceptable," she is a knock out in this role. You should go see this play so that you can witness Schwartz kick ass and take names. It's hard to describe much more without giving away the journey, but Brenda Joyner, Sylvie Davidson, and Hannah Mootz as the congressman's auxiliary women are all quite wonderful, especially Mootz as the final girl who is a little put off that her John has so many feelings.
If there is something to nitpick, it's that you almost expect there to be a little more interaction with the space once the production begins. After the elaborate atmosphere-setting at the beginning, it feels like there's some missed Easter eggs, especially when there's a huge open window that looks out onto 7th and sometimes car alarms go off. Might have been fun to have the actors react to that in real time. In any case, this is a minor point for a riveting, sexy theatre experience that makes you feel exhilarated and a little dirty having witnessed it, in the best way possible, of course.
"Tails of Wasps"
New Century Theatre Company
Through April 27 at ACT
For tickets or information contact the ACT box office at 206-292-7676 or visit them online at www.acttheatre.org