Sex in Seattle 17: Coming Clean: A Soap Opera for the Stage
I last reviewed Sex in Seattle in June 2006 (Episode 13: "Risking It All for Love"), and I could pretty much take all the words I wrote then and put them in a jar with a mysterious pregnancy and a Barry White dance number and some Cheetos (eaten with chopsticks) and shake the jar and make them fight and out would come a perfectly serviceable review of Sex in Seattle Episode 17: Coming Clean. Because not much has changed.
But that's how the Sex in Seattle audience likes it—Sex in Seattle Productions, which aims to both "portray contemporary Asian Americans in a truer light" and "believably address and explore the issues of womanhood," has been staging this populist comedic soap opera since 2001, establishing a fan base of earnest devotees. Their excitement at absorbing one more hour of information about Jenna's unknown babydaddy and Elizabeth's Chinese-only dating policy was palpable—a level of enthusiasm and community that you rarely feel at live theater. People. Are. PUMPED.
Watching Sex in Seattle feels—and this is surely what they're going for—more like watching television than theater: If television were a social experience, home-grown in your neighborhood, happening live in front of you, and grappling (gently) with issues that affect your underserved and stereotyped demographic. (And also kind of sucky and boring at times.) It's a canny setup, and you can't help but like them for it, even if the production itself is less than fascinating.
Sex in Seattle would benefit (especially with nonbelievers) from sinking its teeth a bit deeper into the issues it skirts. There is much "I've never really been with an Asian guy" and "If I were Asian, would it make a difference?" and "Have you ever dated someone who didn't look like you?" (the comeback there, "I should hope so!" was the show's biggest laugh), but very little follow-through. The characters just shake their heads and shrug and jump to the next cliffhanger, which will be resolved, they tell us, in September of 2010. The audience groans and weeps.