Culture Magazine

This Play Has A Hot Tub And Takes You Back In Time

By Pataphysicalsci
It sounds like a good writing exercise: write a play which requires an actual Jacuzzi. I'm not sure if that's what gave The Debate Society (Paul Thureen, Hannah Bos, and Oliver Butler) the idea for the appropriately titled Jacuzzi, but there's more to the play, written by Thureen and Bos and directed by Butler, than just a hot tub. And that doesn't take away from how impressive it is that they were able to get a working Jacuzzi in the small Ars Nova space.

This Play Has A Hot Tub And Takes You Back In Time

Left to Right: Paul Thureen, Chris Lowell, Hannah Bos. Photo credit: Ben Arons

The reason for the Jacuzzi? Robert (Peter Friedman) always wanted one at the family ski chalet, but his wife didn't allow it. He got the place in the divorce, so he finally has one installed. When the play begins, Erik (Thureen) and Helene (Bos), are relaxing in the tub. Bo (Chris Lowell) shows up, a night early to meet his father, and assumes that Erik and Helene are renters. When his father arrives the next day, Erik and Helene say they are there to install the Jacuzzi. Robert asks them to stay to help pack up things that need to be sent to his ex-wife.
Costume designer Jessica Ford, props designer Noah Mease, and set designer Laura Jellinek provide early '90s period details like bright neon ski suits, VHS tapes, and an answering machine, but this isn't your typical '90s nostalgia. It's clear that Erik and Helene aren't what they seem--they keep telling Bo and Robert different stories about their families that don't match up. More is revealed through Helene's narration in between scenes, but more questions are also raised (some of which are never answered), creating a horror film-like suspense I've rarely experienced at the theater. Thureen and Bos strike a perfect balance between creepy and friendly with their smiles and often vacant facial expressions. Robert and Bo aren't the most likable people, but in Friedman and Lowell's carefully crafted portrayals, it's hard not to feel a little sorry for them and their struggle to get the love they need from each other.
Tickets are only $35, but the run (through November 1) is almost sold out.

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