Theater

Shrink Rap

by

Maybe the unexamined life isn’t worth living, but the overexamined life can be a trial as well. In Rites of Privacy, actor-writer David Rhodes climbs into the clothes and minds of five disparate characters with secrets that haunt them—from a faded belle trying to shake off guilt over a marriage gone south, to an antic Belgian rent boy running at speed, and on speed, from his kosher home. In torn mesh shirt and biker cap, this last specimen crystallizes the show’s insistence that the moral junkyards we call our “private lives” are a danger to ourselves and others. It’s a message you might expect from the child of two psychoanalysts, an upbringing that Rhodes describes drolly and engagingly while changing guises at a small dressing table. In fact, these autobiographical moments are the better parts of a show that, under director Charles Loffredo, offers more histrionics than insights. As a writer, Rhodes thinks like an actor: He milks his mildly charming stock characters for shame and horror, so that even a child of Holocaust escapees gets to wallow in survivor’s guilt, and a sunny middle-aged nurse in a Tootsie wig must perform a harrowing home abortion. These vignettes may have therapeutic value, but for whom?