Ken Davenport's My First Time proves talk about sex can be endlessly titillating even if not completely satisfying. FourFront Theatre's version at Le Chat Noir was funny, at times moving, and ad libs and audience contributions kept it lively.
The dialogue or splices of mini-monologues were gleaned from the Web site www.myfirsttime.com, where anonymous contributors have posted stories since the mid-1990s about their first sexual experiences. Davenport amassed a Twitter-like spew of disembodied factoids (ages, places, names, etc.), teaser lines ("In a Burger King bathroom") and occasionally full vignettes. FourFront's Kelly Fouchi, Gary Rucker, Megan Sauzer Harms and Lucas Harms ranged through snippets about sweethearts and strangers, cheap hotels and backseats of cars, gay and straight encounters, wonder and humiliation. The survey of facts and sentiments covered plenty of ground but also denied the play any particular theme or direction.
The rapid-fire chatter turned almost every detail into a punchline. But there were also bits of confusion, regret, selfishness, pain and surprise. Several moving tales seemed that much more compelling because of their bizarre and vivid details. Megan Harms' account of a popular high school girl's romantic evening with a wheelchair-bound math tutor suffering from cerebral palsy was particularly touching. And it was far more joyful than a stark confession Fouchi told about the only intercourse had — in a car filled with his family on a long drive to a hospital— by a young man before he died of complications from a transplant operation.
Rucker seemed most comfortable articulating desire and anticipation and tossing off one-liners with the ease of a stand-up comic. Megan Harms fell easily into a Southern drawl, earnestly offering regrets and realizations. Lucas Harms pumped gusto into tales of callous hedonism. Fouchi was at times like a pageant contestant, exuding breathless if not sincere excitement. Minimal stage props and direction generally left three of the four quiet, watching from atop tall barstools. A PowerPoint-style presentation scrolled facts on a screen slightly offstage to the over-amplified sound of typing on a computer keyboard.
Audience questionnaires submitted anonymously before the production contributed some of the funniest moments as the actors read from them at several points. One audience member apparently lost his or her virginity in a Jazz Fest Port-o-let. Asked what a person would say to their first lover if given the chance to talk again, one wrote, "You were easier to get into than Delgado."
Even if not earthshaking, it's a fun show and one you could enjoy again and again because these are the sorts of personal stories people hash over endlessly. But the response to the audience contributions and the drama of the longer vignettes suggest that a story is more compelling as you get closer to seeing the real or whole person sharing it. — Will Coviello