Dance Naked Productions’ new show, Inviting Desire 2010: Pleasure. Permission. Possibility… is confusedly promoted. One would likely expect naked dancing, for example, and following descriptions of the show as a “theatrical aphrodisiac” one might expect very erotic and engaging naked dancing.
Dance Naked Productions’ new show, Inviting Desire 2010: Pleasure. Permission. Possibility… is confusedly promoted. One would likely expect naked dancing, for example, and following descriptions of the show as a “theatrical aphrodisiac” one might expect very erotic and engaging naked dancing. Maybe an elegant striptease or a few naked women?
Wrong! This is not a pornographic strip show (although the audience is privy to a pair of beautiful and bounteous breasts, and a little ass cheek later on), but something more like a titillating, made-in-Portland version of The Vagina Monologues.
Inviting Desire is a frank discussion of female sexuality presented in a series of skits created by the cast and based on their experiences, as well as the experiences of the hundreds of women who responded to Dance Naked’s survey questions on sex and sexuality.
The show’s topics span age range, sexual orientation, experience and even species—a particularly hilarious skit is about a female lizard’s visit with her psychiatrist, and another stand-out is a Star Wars parody under black lights.
Artistic Director Eleanor O’Brien says that her production company’s name—Dance Naked—is about “joyful vulnerability.” Although there are naked teases in this show, they aren’t so much about eroticism as they are about the performers’ freedom to “put it all out there,” if they so choose.
This freedom is a major theme of the show: From the first skit, about a young woman masturbating while riding her bicycle down Northeast Going Street in the early spring, Inviting Desire is all about encouraging open sexuality and self-expression.
It’s also about encouraging conversation. This is highlighted by a series of three skits featuring cast member Tori Paddelford as a “married woman of a certain age,” gardening on her front steps and advising her neighbor on the benefits of talking about sex with your spouse. Paddelford’s delivery is excellent, and her confessions about just how she and “David” spiced up their sex life over the course of many years are both shocking and comforting.
Less playful issues—such as arranged marriages and discrimination—are also addressed, though these skits are not as powerful as their humorous and light-hearted counterparts. The cast members really shine when they’re making the audience laugh.
What this show does best is encourage women (and men) to feel comfortable in their bodies and to express themselves freely with their bodies. It’s a beautiful thing, and everyone involved in this production is enthusiastic about showing you how it’s done.
Their enthusiasm is contagious. O’Brien is so excited to be here, and so proud of her show and her cast members. This sincerity, in combination with the beautiful venue setting (sunset at the railroad yard, anyone?), makes it pretty near impossible to not have a good time at Inviting Desire 2010.
The show runs about two and a half hours, with one lengthy intermission. Wine and conversation are encouraged, but feel free to wander around the abandoned railcars during the break—you’ll be summoned back to the theater by the sound of bongo drums.