Excerpt from EW.com
Consent has an interesting set-up, but the play fumbles in creating believable dynamics between the characters. In fact, it often seems that everyone besides Curtin’s Emily as a sociopathic streak and playwright Rhodes seems entirely unaware of this. The script seems determined to make you sympathize with the rapist, even though he is depicted as completely unrepentant and cruel. The rape is graphic and unexpected, and Ron’s reaction to it is somewhat puzzling. The dialogue between Kurt and Ron feels especially strained here, as Rhodes makes both men needlessly crude and feels the audience must be continually reminded what sex between gay men consists of.
Excerpt from Review by Beatrice Williams-Rude
The play, by David Rhodes, is awash with gay sex, a bit of nudity, some raw language as well as brutality and S&M. But that’s the surface, not the essence.
The play opens with a sexual encounter, what had started as a casual pickup on a subway platform. The sophisticated architect, Ron, who’s in the midst of a divorce, and a young Yale law student, Kurt, are in bed in the older man’s newly acquired loft. Where the relationship will go becomes the concern—at least for Ron. Newly “out” as gay, and wanting to revel in his new “freedom,” Ron still clings to the familiar domesticity he long enjoyed. He likes to cook, but Kurt couldn’t care less, he just wants raw sex, and trashes the items on Ron’s carefully set table. This is a hint of the power struggle to come.
There are spectacular special effects, particularly during the sex scenes. Lighting is key, and kudos to lighting designer John Eckert, and sound designer Chad Raines. The set, wonderfully flexible, is by Scott Tedmon-Jones.
In sum: an intelligent, well-written, probing script; an excellent cast; and dazzling special effects. This is theater! Theater at its best. The playwright, David Rhodes, trusts the members of the audience to form their own opinions about what they’ve witnessed, a daring act given that the characters who participated in the various events don’t agree about what actually transpired. In fact, this might well be the “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” for the 21st century.
A warning for potential ticket buyers: Unless one is tall and/or doesn’t mind not having an armrest, the high chairs at the back of the theater are problematic.
Excerpt from curtain.com
The younger of the men, Kurt (Michael Goldstein), is the wilder and more worldly. He’s a Yale student pursuing a carpe diem existence, insouciant about the future. The older man, Ron (Michael McCullough Thomas), is the neophyte (not a virgin but inexperienced in casual encounters). He’s a former pro-football player in his forties, long married and the father of two children who’s now getting divorced, .
The men spot each other on a subway platform at West 14th Street. They trade signals, and repair to the swank Soho loft which Ron, an architect, has devised for his planned single existence. What happens next is subject to interpretation: Ron cries rape; Kurt says all was good fun or, in a word, consensual. “We were just acting out, that’s all,” according to Kurt, “Role play.”
The play’s dialogue is brittle, funny, and raw. Under the author’s direction, the action moves swiftly for an hour, losing steam in the final 30 minutes. The bursts of violence, effectively choreographed by UnkleDave’s Fight House (the team responsible for fight choreography in the recent Broadway production of Disgraced and the current An American in Paris) are dramatically compelling and convincing. However, Consent won’t be for everyone. At the performance under review, two playgoers beat a hasty retreat from the premises at the conclusion of the first sadomasochistic encounter.
“Consent” will run at The Black Box Theatre, at the Harold & Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre, 111 West 46th Street in Manhattan, through June 28.