Christopher Durang


Full Length Plays

Sex and Longing

 

Sex and Longing was produced by Lincoln Center Theatre (Andre Bishop, Bernard Gerstein, directors) at the Cort Theatre in New York City on September 12, 1996 (opened on October 10).  It was directed by Garland Wright; sets were designed by John Arnone, costumes by Susan Hilferty, lighting by Brian MacDevitt, sound by John Gromada, company manager was Rheba Flegelman, stage manager was Dianne Trulock.  Understudies were Felicity LaFortune, Bill Dawes, Michael Arkin, Cynthia Darlow.  The cast was:

 

Lulu

 ...............................  Sigourney Weaver
Justin  ...............................  Jay Goede
Senator Harry McCrea  ...............................  Guy Boyd
Bridget McCrea  ...............................  Dana Ivey
Reverend Davidson  ...............................  Peter Michael Goetz
Policeman/Jack/Special Witness  ...............................  Eric Thal

From Durang:

My play Sex and Longing was presented by Lincoln Center Theatre in 1996, at the Cort Theatre on Broadway. It was disliked by most critics. I think audiences often liked parts of it, especially the first two-thirds. Watching the play during its run though, I could feel that I lost the audience during the last third, regardless of the fine work the actors were doing.

The play was conceived as a comic epic and was in three acts. There were two topics really – sex and longing (and sexual addiction), as represented by Lulu and her gay friend Justin, who need sex constantly and have published a coffee table book called “Explicit Photographs of the Last 300 People I Slept With”; and the religious right’s seeming desire to write their rigid, anti-sex morality into law when possible, as represented by Brigid McCrea and the Reverend Davidson, who join forces to use Lulu as an example of moral degradation during a congressional hearing.

The play is not realistically written (Lulu claims to need sex every 15 minutes, and shows up at the Congressional hearing in only a sheet)… but the two themes didn’t merge properly, and the story seemed random in many ways.

I sometimes run into people who say they liked it; but many more didn’t, truthfully, and I’ve chosen not to have it published, because I don’t think the last third of the play works.

New York Stage and Film offered me a week’s workshop to work on a rewritten version in 1997; and though it was valuable, I didn’t solve the problems.

Maybe someday I’ll figure it out. Or maybe I’ll just use certain sections and/or impulses in the play and write something entirely different.

I am proud of some of the scenes; and the actors told me they had a wonderful time playing the play for the audiences, on the whole. Sigourney Weaver was brave and bold and funny in her Promethean portrayal of a sexual rebel; and Dana Ivey was deeply, deeply hilarious as the harsh-minded, judgmental Brigid (and she deserved a Tony, I thought). Peter Michael Goetz was wonderful as the wily Reverend; and Guy Boyd was hilarious as Brigid’s messy, chaotic Senator husband.  Eric Thal was sexy and scary as Jack, and funny as the Special Witness.  And though I think I would adjust the part of Justin in the writing to make him more of a Robert Downey, Jr. “bad boy,” Jay Goede brought skill and sensitivity to what I did write.


Below is a link to a diary I wrote about the week the play closed that was published in Slate. Also, if you subscribe to nerve.com, under Durang there’s an article I wrote about the play that includes some photos and some excerpts from the play.

Slate diary written by Durang on closing of “Sex and Longing”

Note: the Lincoln Center 1996 production was taped and may be watched at the Lincoln Center Performing Arts Library with permission.

Cast size: 4 male, 2 female
Rights: The rights to Sex And Longing are not presently available; the author feels the last third of the play does not presently work as written.  

Durang wonders about rewriting the play sometime, so if you are a professional theatre who wishes to consider presenting a rewritten version some day, feel free to make inquiries to Mr. Durang’s agent - Patrick Herold, International Creative Management, 40 West 57th Street, 16th Floor, New York, NY 10019.  Phone: 212-556-5600 Email: PHerold@icmtalent.com

 

Photos by Joan Marcus

The Reverend (Peter Michael Goetz) looks at Lulu’s book “Explicit Photographs of the Last 300 People We Slept With,” though Brigid McCrea (Dana Ivey) shields her eyes.  

Attacked during a sexual tryst, Lulu finds religion.  Here she is instructed by the Reverend and Brigid how to make polite conversation.  (The legs in the photo belong to an oversize crucifix in the room.)  Sigourney Weaver, Peter Michael Goetz, Dana Ivey. 

Later on, Brigid (Dana Ivey) takes it on herself to speak for an inflatable doll that has been elected to Congress.  

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