REVIEW | Strange afterglow looking back at Sex Fest II | The Factory Theatre | Rose Rundown

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Written By: Matthew Koentjoro

HR1Heart & Dagger Productions concluded their spring play series with dueling shows that challenged the audience to experience the various scenes and situations of sexual content ranging from innocent love to deviant debauchery with a sprinkle of discomforting atrocity. Sex Fest II was heralded by a brief summary, excerpted, “It is a celebration of sexual desire, fantasy, orientation, and identity. … None of these plays are safe.” “Safeword,” a collection of short titillating pieces produced by Boston playwrights provided a scrutable variety of topics and as a whole were lighter-hearted. “Jesus,” the larger single production based on a Charles Mee writing, served as the dark and emotional dagger piercing the core of heavier fringe topics and what sex can mean to many different people.

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Fairy Cock Father. Crisco. Star Wars: A New Grope. Many of these excellent and thought-provoking shorts from “Safeword: F*ck You Master” would be viral right now if they were posted to YouTube. H&D puts the audience through a cascading gamut of situations such as Icarus unable to control his wings when sexually excited, a virtuous penis’ quest to find the pure princess vagina, two dudes and a watermelon, a nearly mono-syllabic exchange confronting betrayal between lovers, an unsettling experiment in sadism, and bits of casual nudity within a black box stage. Safeword showcased the work of local playwrights and directors and the wonder of ‘what crazy thing could be next?’ was easily well received. Much of the humor was pumped full of innuendo and attacked with glitter. We laughed, we cried, we saw a penis.

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Charles Mee is an honored playwright and professor of theater at Columbia University. The script for Jesus is a dark and twisted marathon of sex and violence with monstrous catharsis. H&D is the second production company to perform this shock fest in its near entirety.

“It almost became a social experiment, watching the people watching the show,” said Erin Rae Zalaski, who played the bold and sexy character Salome.

Jesus plays out as a derelict collage of interlocking meditations magnifying the darker sides of sex, sex crimes, war, death, and arguably raw humanity – blessed be. H&D strung together memorable moments from haunting musical scenes, a water-filled bath tub, and a very powerful game of group Russian Roulette and musical chairs. It is not uncommon for patrons to exit early when a squeamish scenes approaches climax. The actors performed amazingly in their finale performance and were exhausted both physically and emotionally as they left everything they had out there on the Factory Theatre’s stage.

Heart & Dagger’s bold choice to perform this piece shows that this production company means business. Creative Director, Joey Pelletier said,”Plays such as Jesus are really in line with the heart and soul of who we are at H&D.”

Be sure not to miss the next Heart & Dagger production when it comes out. They really know how to blow up a black box stage and their performances are sure to stick in the minds of viewers – a lot like glitter.

Rose Rundown