Fringeworthy

hookups: A Second Opinion!

Wonderbox, 629 New York Ave. NW

Remaining Performances:

Saturday, July 23, 9 p.m.
Sunday, July 24, 12:30 pm.

Sex on drugs, sex on love, sex from above (or rather, news of such delivered by the angels from on high). That's what hookups explores—the spectrum of romantic couplings from the dawn of time through present-day one-night stands. And that's how the play begins: An everyman slips out of the sheets of the air mattress that remains the focal point for the duration of the performance. Bashfully, he slips on his clothes in an attempt to make an undetected exit. Upon waking, the woman asleep launches into a barrage of questioning intended to foster intimacy, which of course comes off as comically clingy. Initially, hookups seems to rely heavily on stereotypes but quickly redeems itself with cutting dialogue that hits a little too close to home and send-ups of various historical pairings. Fitzwilliam Darcy struts around proclaiming "I am wearing a ruffled shirt!" until you realize he and Elizabeth are a modern day couple attempting Jane Austen role-play. Two hilariously awkward tweens visualize their deeply nerdy historical slash fiction pairing of Abraham Lincoln and a male innkeeper. An unbelieving Virgin Mary points out that most visitors that arrive in the night bearing a proclamation from God are usually murderous psychopaths. And in a nice nod to D.C.'s never-ending panda-pregnancy watch, two pandas fumble around in their confinement. (Too soon?) "Maybe I like boy pandas," wonders the confused male half of the pair sporting corporate-sponsored names. "I can't really tell the difference."

The world premiere of the Ad Hoc Players' hookups makes little differentiation between the struggles within the realistic, present-day sketches and the more ludicrous set ups. The questions each character grapples with are all questions the audience can relate to: Where is this relationship going? Am I more into you than you're into me, or vice versa? Do I have enough faith to go through with this? Am I OK with being the third wheel? The last one is presented with a monologue by a sandwich-eating King Arthur as Lancelot and Guinevere tumble around in exaggerated throes of passion behind a sheet-as-curtain—a perfect example of the troupe's collective strength of physical comedy. The play explores some serious questions, but overall, hookups keeps things casual, and the audience wouldn't want it any other way.
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