Like drama, s/m only works when everyone's playing along. Otherwise, as Leslie Ayvazian's risky, funny piece Make Me demonstrates, the intrusion of the ordinary deflates the excitement. Brandishing a whip, suburban housewife Connie (Jessica Hecht) tries to dominate husband Eddie (Anthony Arkin) by becoming a dominatrix. But the two bicker about minutiae and ruin their erotic connection, and Eddie ends up handcuffed to a chair while Connie goes to a dominatrix lesson. Their older neighbors, Hank and Sissy (J.R. Horne and Ellen Parker), hear Eddie barking through their walls and decide to emulate the couple. In the meantime, Connie's teacher, Mistress Lorraine (Candy Buckley), has come to the end of her s/m relationship with Phil (Richard Masur), incidentally the mayor of their town.
A bit of the suburban rough stuff: Make Me
By Leslie Ayvazian
Atlantic Theater Stage
2330 West 16th Street, 212-279-4200
That last detail gives the play, directed by Christian Parker, an eerie energy despite the Durang-ish laughs up-front, suggesting a relationship between suburban repression and torture. But s/m fails to resolve the couple's problems, underscoring the implication that enhanced interrogation doesn't work—though Ayvazian never lets on whether anything might ever revive these relationships. Instead, before showing him the door, Mistress Lorraine tells the mayor, "From now on, you can fuck yourself," unwilling to share his twisted fantasy anymore. In love, Ayvazian implies, we're all similarly fucked.