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The Shop, 607 New York Avenue NW

Remaining Performances:

Sunday, July 10, at 5:15 p.m.
Wednesday, July 13, at 9:15 p.m.
Saturday, July 16, at 8:30 p.m.

They say: “If control is impossible…let’s pack up those sexual emotions that are getting us in such big trouble and head straight for the Hotel Fuck,” implores Ken Pussy Puss in avant garde giant Richard Foreman’s colorful masterpiece, which follows a motley group, including Tony Turbo, Giza von Goldenhein and Julia Jacobsen, in a desperate yet hilarious quest to find the infamous yet elusive Hotel Fuck.”

Greg’s Take: I left Hotel Fuck with the distinct feeling that I’d enjoyed it, but without really being able to pinpoint why. Things got underway with such an infectious energy that a small let-down in the middle was inevitable, but a strong finish went a long way toward smoothing that over. While I felt jarred at times by some of the show’s hurly-burly ups and downs, I at least appreciated the fact that there were ups and downs, especially when the alternative would have been a very vanilla 60 minutes. In other words, for a show about the quest for the perfect screw, this succeeds admirably in that watching it was an awful lot like having sex.

Hotel Fuck was written by Richard Foreman, one of the greats of avant-garde theater, who once described the desired effect of his plays as a “disorientation massage.” This ethos renders questions of “setting” and “plot” somewhat obsolete, but here goes: Four people — two men, a man playing a woman, and a man playing a man playing a woman — decide that they’ve had it with those damn emotions getting them into trouble. They pack up and head for the Hotel Fuck, a mythical den of infamy where all your raunchiest dreams come true.

Helming this adventure were William Hayes and James T. Majewski as Tommy Tuttle and Ken Pussy Puss. These two come in buddy-movie-tight, and watching them gingerly test the waters of what they will do, won’t do, and secretly love doing is one of the show’s lasting pleasures. But it’s Jay Hardee in a bright orange wig and lingerie who ultimately commands the stage as nymphomaniac Julia Jacobson. A man in lady’s underwear is not unheard of in theater, and certainly not at the Fringe, but it’s rare to find an actor who can pull it off with control and gravity. Because Hardee knows when and how to reign himself in, Jacobson commands genuine respect, rather than just cheap laughs.

A friend of mine who also saw the show compared Hotel Fuck to what Waiting for Godot would have been had Samuel Beckett smoked a whole bunch of Viagra-laced cocaine before sitting down to write. While I respectfully disagree with the specifics, I can see his point. Much as we know the Irish playwright’s hapless schlubs aren’t ever going to get what they’re after, we can also be sure that Foreman’s characters similarly screwed. Toward the end of the play doubt creeps in that maybe, just maybe, there is no Hotel Fuck. Maybe there is no glorious shimmering beacon of sin and smut and all things wrong, but if such a constant isn’t real and never was, why are these four characters so intent on finding it? In the end it’s Hotel Fuck‘s portrayal of the ugly side of sex, the hunger, the want, the futile search for ultimate satisfaction that makes the show. Because I for one am sick and tired of hearing about how awesome sex is all the time. It’s nice to feel bad about it again.

See it if: You appreciate a good disorientation massage.

Skip it if: You are at all uncomfortable with male nudity and/or the terrible F-word. Cuz both of those things happen. A Lot.