Unless you’re craving considerable lewdness, take care to use precise terms when performing an Internet search for American Sexy, Trista Baldwin’s new play at the Flea. And unless you’re wanting even more, take equal care in deciding whether to order a ticket. Baldwin imagines a quartet of college students who pause on a road trip to camp at the Grand Canyon, revealing few outdoors skills and fewer morals.
In another writer’s hands, this might have been a piece of salacious fun, exploiting the talents and trim bodies of the Bats, the Flea’s resident acting company. But a romp isn’t the playwright’s goal. Instead, the play is a piece of hand-wringing designed to show the spiritual emptiness of a generation more comfortable with forwarding cell-phone videos of blowjobs than forging emotional connections.
This is sufficiently cheerless and only worsened by Baldwin and director Mia Walker’s seeming contempt for the characters, such as Lexi (Satomi Blair), a young woman who uses “slut” and “whoreface” as terms of endearment, or Darren (Ron Washington), whose most redeeming feature is his abs. If your only sympathetic figure is a blow-up sex doll, something’s gone very wrong.