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Monday, March 18,2013

Box of broken cherries

‘My First Time’ runs gamut of sexual experiences

by ALLAN I. ROSS

Somewhere between a Penthouse Forum story and a Swiftian journal entry (Taylor, not Jonathan) lies “My First Time,” a staged reading of stories culled from the aptly named website, MyFirstTime.com. The premise is simple: four actors take the stage in the Wharton Center’s Pasant Theatre on Saturday, Feb. 11 for an utterly unapologetic conversation about love, sex and innocence—though not necessarily in that order.

The overlapping vignettes are mostly hetero, American, and contemporary, but all are recognizable. Few are new or shocking. These are the tales you’ve been hearing (and telling) since adolescence. Ken Davenport’s script is well organized, dividing the play into easy-to-digest segments such as Where We Did It, What We Said Right Before and After, How Old I Was, and so on. It’s easy to follow and refreshingly short. The unique delight in this show comes from the comfort it provides knowing that, hey, you’re not alone in your joy, shame or fear of sex.

Hear about the mutual deflowering of a lustful teenage couple; the 15-year-old who unintentionally has her first encounter with her best friend during a sleepover; and the young woman who makes a heartbreaking decision when her teenage brother turns to her with his dying wish. The tone darts between poignant and comedic, but isn’t that what sex—and life—is all about?

The always awesome John Lepard’s characterizations were the highlight of the show. Lepard embodied a gnarly surfer dude who joins the mile-high club, a gentlemanly radio DJ who sweetly seduces his lady love live on the air, and a rapist who prides himself in preying on the weak and insecure—all of them easily recognizable as someone you could know.

There are some stories that feel a little out of place. Why is a 34-year-old virgin who’s still holding out for the right woman included? Why is the story of a wheelchair-bound teenager narrated by the woman who said yes to him? Why is the rape of a young woman told from the point of view of her jilted suitor? The hot topics of rape and abortion make brief appearances, but they are treated honestly and seriously.

The standout quote of the evening, by far, also suited a certain writers’ virginal experience: “It was like Christmas morning, only worse.” Yeah, it was a little like that.

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