Sex and Violence, by Ronnie Larsen, is a play inspired by the real life story of a New York transsexual who kept a corpse in her closet for 20 years. Jack Shepard, a successful writer, goes against the wishes of his publisher and begins to research the "corpse" story for a possible book. His journey takes him places he never thought he'd go and the closer he gets to finishing his book the closer he comes to losing his life.
Six different people; a power-mad publisher, his headstrong wife, a New York street thug, two tough-as-nails transsexuals and a writer looking for his next best-seller all come together in one story but only one of them actually lives to write the book. What begins as a simple story about a writer looking for his next subject evolves in to a twisted tale of greed, power, love and lust ending in a shocking and bloody climax that involves body parts, a chainsaw, and garbage bags dripping with blood
Jack, a writer
Roy, an editor
Linda, his wife
Dolores Alexander, a transsexual
Joey, her boyfriend
Suzette, a transsexual
History: Began life in Chicago as part of a play called The Risk of Being Cruel. That play was cut in to pieces. One half wound up as Sleeping With Straight Men and the other half is now Sex and Violence.
Linda............................................ Kitt Marsh
Dolores Alexander..........Keith Doughery
Joey, her boyfriend...............Angel Perez
Suzette, a transsexual..........Mario Betto
Chicago (as part of long since dismantled The Risk of Being Cruel)
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
This time it’s a new play
By Warren Day
Part of the reason to see the world premiere of a play is to catch it in its embryonic stage, to see it try and obtain its sea legs as it makes its first journey from page to stage.
The Empire Stage Theater in Fort Lauderdale, a theater that often presents works of interest to the LGBT community, is now offering the world premiere of “Sex and Violence,” by Ronnie Larsen.
“Making Porn” may be Larsen’s most famous play, but he’s also written “10 Naked Men,” “Sleeping with Straight Men,” and “Cocksucker: A Love Story.” Obviously he knows his audience (which is why some nudity is usually thrown in).
He uses as his inspiration point the true story of a New York transsexual who kept a corpse in her closet for over 15 years. Larsen combines that 1979 story with a 2011 one about a writer struggling with writers block as he tries to find the subject matter for his second bestseller. Needless to say, sex, violence and laughter is the result.
Ronnie Larsen says this play is about, “money, desperation, loneliness, gender, book publishing, marriage, commitment, fear, murder, love, sex, violence.” Therein lies the problem. It’s about too many things, particularly for a play that’s supposed to be less than 90 minutes long. It scatters its shots and loses sight of any single target.
The playwright currently lives in Mexico and hasn’t seen this first-time production, and that hurts, because any writer will make changes once he sees his work in full performance – some scenes will be tightened, some expanded, and others dropped altogether.
Dressed in a form that’s part theaterof- the-absurd, part Texas chainsaw splatter movie (or what the French called Grand Guignol, to give its proper theater lineage), part drag show on the down low, and part satire on all of the above. You admire it for its audacity and energy even if this production fails to hang together.
Jeff Holmes, the director, hasn’t given it the nimble tempo the playwright intended. Again, if Larsen had been present he may have helped Holmes find ways to reduce the costume and furniture changes that halts the pace too often, even if there is a clever selection of recorded songs to cover such moments.
“Sex and Violence” demands brave performances from its actors and this cast gives it their all (and even a couple of the men appear in their all-together).
South Florida theatergoers will recognize some familiar faces, including David R. Gordan, who’s also the founding partner of Empire Stage Theater, and Kitt Marsh who was recently so good in “Fit To Be Tied.”
Even if there are some missteps, do give yourself this rare chance to see the very first production of an original play.
RONNIE LARSEN INTERVIEWS HIMSELF ABOUT HIS NEW PLAY, "SEX AND VIOLENCE"
Interviewer: Mr. Larsen, thank you for sitting down and talking with me about your new play.
Mr. Larsen: I'm not sitting, I'm lying on my back in bed in Tijuana holding my laptop with one hand and typing with the other. That's how I write.
Interviewer: I know but it sounds classier to say, "Thank you for sitting down with me." It makes it sound like we scheduled this or something. So about your play. Sexand Violence. What's it about.
Mr. Larsen: Money, desperation, loneliness, gender, book publishing, marriage, comittment, fear, murder, love, sex, violence.
Interviewer: It sounds long.
Mr. Larsen: It's not.
Interviewer: I hate long plays. How long is it?
Mr. Larsen: Between 80-90 minutes.
Interviewer: I love it. So what happens in the play.
Mr. Larsen: I can't really tell you because I want you to be surprised.
Interviewer: I hate surprises.
Mr. Larsen: There's a guy struggling to write a second book. And there's a transsexual with a corpse in her closet. And there's a love story. And lots of people get killed.
Interviewer: Tell me more about the corpse in the closet.
Mr. Larsen: Well, many years ago when I was very young I read an article in NY magazine about a NYC transsexual/drag queen/performer named Dorian Corey andwhen she died they found a corpse in her closet. I became immediately obsessed with this idea and decided to write a play about it. What kind of person keeps a corpse in a closet for 20 years? And then I got to thinking about closets and secrets and drag queens and transsexuals and NYC and I started to write. And here we are 15 or so years later and the play is about to be produced.
Interviewer: Why did it take 15 years to get produced?
Mr. Larsen: The answer to that question is so complex and time-consuming that I'm not even going to touch it except to say that things happen when they happen and a huge part of life is learning to embrace the time-line of your own life as opposed to trying to make things happen when maybe they aren't supposed to. I think now is a very good time for this play to be produced. Money is a huge theme in this play andright now, most everyone I know is struggling with money issues whereas 15 years ago the economy was better so maybe the financial desperation in the play will resonate a little more loudly. I don't know.
Interviewer: You've written plays that some people have found to be funny. Is this a comedy, a tragedy, a satire...?
Mr. Larsen: It's a play. As a writer, thinking in terms of comedy or tragedy is not useful. All our lives are hilariously comic and depressingly tragic and often both within the same 10 minutes. Sex and Violence is a play about complicated people in complicated situations. I think that sums it up.
Interviewer: Ok, one last question.
Mr. Larsen: My publicist is saying wrap it up.
Interviewer: You don't have a publicist.
Mr. Larsen: Ok what's the question?
Interviewer: Does the play feature nudity?
Mr. Larsen: What a disgustingly crass question to ask me. I worked on this play on and off for 15 years and what you really want to know is if it features nudity? Seriously? How tacky. Really. Thanks for cheapening what I thought was going to be an interesting interview. Anything else? I need to go.
Interviewer: So there's no nudity?
Mr. Larsen. Of course there's nudity, you moron.
Interviewer: How much?
Mr. Larsen: This interview is over.