If you think about it, hot tubs are pretty weird. They’re bathtubs we share with strangers for fun. How well do we really know our fellow pleasure-soakers? What unsavory histories are they bringing into the bubbly water along with their warts and back hair? Such uneasy combinations of intimacy and strangeness fuel the Debate Society’s new play, an enticing meditation on the hidden freakiness of everyone we meet — especially those we wonder about the least.
Created by the company’s core members — Hannah Bos, Oliver Butler, and Paul Thureen, who also concocted the Obie-winning Blood Play — Jacuzzi follows a mysterious couple who infiltrate a wealthy household in a Colorado ski town. Impersonating handy-people, the pair (Bos and Thureen) befriend the newly divorced Robert (Peter Friedman) and his angsty son Bo (Chris Lowell), improvising wildly as they worm their way into their newfound employers’ lives.
In Debate Society tradition, the real star here is the set, a family ski lodge crammed with knickknacks, heirlooms, and the titular tub — all imagined with admirably obsessive detail by Laura Jellinek.
Such excess serves the production better than the script, which can feel overstuffed: Voiceovers provide unnecessary exposition; extra scenes embroider the plot rather than enriching it. But the underlying tale about the true strangeness of everyone around us is eerily engaging — and well worth a leisurely dip.