Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Philadelphia

Sensitive Guys
InterAct Theatre Company
Review by Rebecca Rendell | Season Schedule

Lexie Braverman, Maggie Johnson, Emily Lynn,
Bi Jean Ngo, and Brett Ashley Robison

Photo by Jason Lindner / InterAct Theatre
I almost missed my chance to see InterAct Theatre Company's Sensitive Guys before it closed last weekend. Playwright MJ Kaufman's new work sounded didactic (it's set in the safe spaces of a liberal university) and gimmicky (why should all the roles be played by women?) and therefore, I thought, uninteresting. I cannot remember the last time I was so happy to be so wrong. Wrong because director Evren Odcikin's production is funny, through provoking, and gripping. Wrong because it turns out a progressive space is ideal for illustrating the relentlessness of sexual violence and male entitlement. Wrong because watching non-cisgender males play cisgender males so convincingly obliterates the notion that there is some type of inherently male pattern of speech, or posture or behavior. Kaufman's impossibly relevant piece reminds us that even though the vicious power of patriarchy is ubiquitous, it is most certainly not inevitable.

The story is fairly straightforward, keeping the focus on the authentic dialogue and excellent performances. The action takes place on the campus of fictive Watson College. The women of the Survivor's Support Group are feeling optimistic about their ability to end all sexual assault, and the Men's Peer Education Group is confident they can channel empathy and self-awareness into real social change. What starts out as satire quickly becomes something more when we learn that one of the men in the Peer Education Group has assaulted a woman in the Survivors' Support Group. There are funny moments throughout, but also a mounting sense of tension that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats.

In the InterAct production, an The incredibly talented ensemble of five played all the parts. It was enlightening. Emily Lynn was inadvertently smug and awesomely angry. Brett Ashley Robison gave her roles authenticity and depth. Lexie Braverman was disarmingly tender as an earnestly emotional college guy. Bi Jean Ngo brought a remarkable sincerity and adorable energy to her roles. Maggie Johnson's performance displayed both impressive range and nuance. Katherine Fritz' costumes were spot on and this cast made the most of it.

When Sensitive Guys goes up again I will be first in line, hoping for a cast as good as this one.

Sensitive Guys ran January 19 - February 11, 2018, at the Proscenium Theater at the Drake, 302 S. Hicks St., Center City PA. For information about the show or InterAct Theatre Company call 215-568-8079 or visit

Lexie Braverman
Maggie Johnson
Emily Lynn
Bi Jean Ngo
Brett Ashley Robison

Director: Evren Odcikin
Costume Designer: Katherine Fritz

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