Smoke Review - Is Everyone a Little Kinky?

Playwright Kim Davies explores some intriguing questions in SMOKE, the second of Rogue Machine Theatre’s 2016 offerings. Whether it’s sex or life, do we get to choose what happens to us? In a no-holds-barred intense sexual play with adult language, Davies draws some thought-provoking parallels between how people act sexually and in life. Not for the faint of heart, SMOKE crosses some usually rigid lines to make the point.

Patrick Stafford and Emily James - Photo by John Flynn

John (Patrick Stafford) slips out of a New York City kink-party into the kitchen to grab a smoke. He is an aspiring artist who has not yet made a dent in the artistic scene – despite being in his early 30’s. Right now, he’s an intern for a famous visual artist, and he enjoys basking in the light of this relationship. While he ponders his current situation, Julie (Emily James) also slips into the kitchen for a cigarette. As fate would have it, their lives turn out to be connected in ways that nobody could have guessed. She just happens to be the daughter of John’s boss. She’s only 20 and seems to be naïve and “fresh from the farm.” It doesn’t take long before the two launch into discussions about life and sex. Despite her overt innocence, Julie’s presence at this sado-masochistic sex party may be more of a calculated plan than a curiosity. Is she on the hunt? If so, John may be interested in being the hunted.

Emily James and Patrick Stafford - Photo by John Flynn

Talented director Lisa James does a bang-up job of drawing the audience into the characters’ conflicts and is ably assisted by two very skilled actors. They radiate chemistry and manage to make their encounters smokin’ hot real. Playwright Davies also manages to slip in some very funny lines. There is never a dull moment as the audience tries to figure out what may happen next. Tension keeps building, and a few innocuous cigarettes may lead to some very incendiary situations.

Patrick Stafford and Emily James - Photo by John Flynn

David Mauer’s scenic adaptation amply fills the theatrical needs of SMOKE. Dan Weingarten’s lighting and Christopher Moscatiello’s sound enhance the overall production. While intriguing, SMOKE may not be a play for everyone, especially those who are squeamish about overt sexual acting out – especially when combined with the threat of violence. In addition, the ending fades with little resolution to any of the questions raised. But, then again, there may be no answers to some of these questions.

Emily James and Patrick Stafford - Photo by John Flynn

SMOKE runs through June 25, 2016, with performances at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and at 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The Rogue Machine performs at the Met Theatre, located at 1089 North Oxford Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90029. Tickets are $20. For information and reservations, call 855-585-5185 or go to the RogueMachineTheatre website.



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