Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco

An Erotic Production of Pleasure + Pain at the Magic

Also see Richard's reviews of The Birthday Party, American $uicide and Karen Mason

Jennifer Clare and
Robert Parsons

The Magic Theatre has opened its Hot House 2007 series with an erotic 90-minute production of Chantal Bilodeau's Pleasure + Pain. This will run in repertory with Kirsten Greenidge's Rust (opening on February 24) and C. Michele Kaplan's BOT (opening on March 10th).

The plot of Pleasure + Pain involves Peggy (Jennifer Clare), a reckless young lady working in a Midwestern university as a clerk. Her erotic daydreams of a master/slave relationship interrupt the monotony of her daily life. She has even written a short story full of situations involving this type of S & M sex.

Peggy's boyfriend (Max Moore) is a "sweet guy" who is the exact opposite of what she wants for a sexual partner. He is something of a milquetoast and not very exciting. Peggy's middle-aged boss Ruth (Catherine Smitko) has her own problems since she has just discovered she is a lesbian. Also in this mix of strange characters are The Dean (Robert Parsons), an apparently normal guy with a wife and two kids, and a hunk who appears in Peggy's fantasy dreams, usually in a steel cage where he can open the door and do sensual things to the young woman.

Peggy hates to be in control, and she relates to Ruth that the prior month she did not pay any of her credit cards just to see how she would feel, and she tells Ruth that she even tried to masturbate in her car while driving to work (she could not continue to climax since a cop caught her speeding).

The Dean has accidentally found her sensual story among his papers. Two scenes follow: one from Peggy's fantasy mind and the other which shows what actually happens. The ending is straight out of a Federico Fellini movie.

Jennifer Clare (Long Christmas Ride Home and M. Butterfly) is exceptional as Peggy. Her confusion of what is fantasy and what is real is beautifully portrayed. Catherine Smitko (Nero: Another Golden Rome) gives a first rate performance as the middle-aged woman who finally realizes she is a lesbian. Max Moore (Merry Wives of Windsor, Merchant of Venice, As You Like It at Cal Shakes) gives a genuine performance as the boyfriend who will do anything to please Peggy. Robert Parsons (Lonesome West, Right Kind of People) is effective in the small role of The Dean. Andrew Utter (holds an MFA from the Yale School of Drama for directing) gives a brutish performance as the hunk.

Set Designer Matt McAddon is able to turn the small stage into an office, a living room and space for the interesting steel bar cage. Jessica Heidt helms the fast paced production and gets some very exotic performances out of Jennifer Clair and Andrew Utter.

Pleasure + Pain will run in repertory through April 1st at the Magic Theatre, Building D, Laguna at Marina Blvd, San Francisco. For tickets please call 415-441-8822 or visit

Photo: Nick Shoob

Cheers - and be sure to Check the lineup of great shows this season in the San Francisco area

- Richard Connema

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