Miranda Rose Hall Reveals Longings for Love & Transition
by Barry David Horwitz
“Plot Points in Our Sexual Development” recalls the risks that young people take as they explore sexual identities. Playwright Miranda Rose Hall exposes the trials and errors we walk into when we don’t know who we are, yet.
Hall takes us behind the scenes of questioning youth while they are still figuring out what works for them.
The playwright plunges us into a rapid-fire Truth or Dare story-telling game where Theo (Ezra Reaves) and Cecily (Akaina Ghosh), clearly lovers, are telling each other their sexual histories—step by step, graphically—from childhood to their romantic present.
Cecily, a femme, and Theo, a trans man, are reviewing their sexual crises as children, telling each other how they naively encountered sex as kids. And their stories are a hoot.
Director Leigh Rondon-Davis wittily includes us in the dramatic monologues. When they directly address the audience, we become co-conspirators in their private confessions.
In NCTC’s new space, arranged arena style, we are in an elegantly designed living room with the struggling lovers. Cecily reclines on the purple chaise lounge surrounded by a swirl of oriental carpets centering on the two of them.
As Cecily, Ghosh is superbly controlled and lucid. When she raises her arms in revelation, we go with her into the secrets of her sexual history. We feel the effect of nuns in her Catholic school, the photos of infected vaginas in the school cafeteria, the self-loathing inflicted by exploitative male partners, and the betrayals of predatory lovers.
Matching her is the frank, thoughtful, and conflicted Reaves as Theo—whose first boyfriends were twins at daycare, Harry and Larry, and they all used to play “Kiss Machine”: “… and I accidentally / head-bumped Harry.” So the five year old twin “broke up” with Theo “out of solidarity, / and that was the last time I ever dated a man.” The stories are moving and hilarious.
As a child, Theo declares in a grocery store: “You have a penis!” and “You don’t have a penis!” alarming shoppers.
As a three-year-old, Cecily falls in love with Aunt Linda’s lawn jockey—and marries him! At tender ages, these kids searched for sexual meaning. Each story offers a touching turning point, told in lyrical, poetic language, with superb honesty.
As a trans man, Theo offers confidence and safety to Cecily—until, after their stories, they hit a bump in the road. The bump is unexpected and deserves a second act in its own right..
Cecily, a sensitive girl, wants to be treated better but cannot assert herself against men’s wishes. Cecily says, “I wish I had the courage and personality to say something.”
Their current sexual conflict finally breaks out into the open—and they begin to discuss it—but the 55-minute confrontation ends too soon, leaving us wondering.
Covid has summoned forth lots of inner conflict—and folks are yearning to understand the interior life. “Plot Points” tells great stories, with magnificent acting. As Theo says:
I want to have sex with you –
queer, mutual, creative sex
that isn’t mimicking
or simulating anything,
that can exist on its own.
“Plot Points in Our Sexual Development” by Miranda Rose Hall, directed by Leigh Rondon-Davis, by New Conservatory Theatre Center, San Francisco. Info: NCTC-SF.org – to December 19, 2021.
Cast: Akaina Ghosh and Ezra Reaves.
Banner photo: Akaina Ghosh & Ezra Reaves. Photos by Lois Tema