Review: In ‘Inanimate,’ a Forbidden Love Dares to Speak Its Name

The category of loves that dare not speak their names, at least from American theater stages, keeps shrinking. In 2002, Edward Albee’s “The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?” presented a married architect’s affair with a barnyard animal as a means of exploring the limits of erotic tolerance. “Inanimate” takes this investigation a step further, with a fractured lyricism all its own.

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Excerpt: ‘Inanimate’

A scene from Nick Robideau’s new play at the Flea Theater.


By FLEA THEATER on Publish Date August 27, 2017.


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The brave new world – or perhaps not so new, just previously unmentionable – that Mr. Robideau has ventured into is clinically known as “objectum sexuality,” or objectophilia. As Erica eventually discovers, it is a condition that now has its own websites, online forums and support groups; it has even been the subject of documentaries, such as “Strange Love: Married to the Eiffel Tower.”

Clinical, though, is definitely not the word for “Inanimate.” As directed by Courtney Ulrich and performed by the Bats, the Flea’s young resident acting company, this play unfolds as a sort of normcore comic variation on “Romeo and Juliet,” which insists we regard its central relationship as worthy of high flights of poetic fancy.

Such a perspective could so easily lean toward smirky voyeurism or cloying cuteness. And in the opening scenes, I worried that a perverse preciousness might dominate.

But “Inanimate” wins us over by contextualizing its exotic subject in the bedrock of the familiar. Subjectively, most of us went through what Erica is experiencing when we were teenagers,…

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