Bill Dawes, Cyndee Welburn, Josh Heine, and Kathy Searle
in My First Time
(© Drew Geraci)
Bill Dawes, Cyndee Welburn, Josh Heine, and Kathy Searle
in My First Time
(© Drew Geraci)
In My First Time, now at New World Stages, Ken Davenport -- who also produces the long-running and delightful Altar Boyz and the popular Awesome 80s Prom -- sets out to disprove the old cliché about there being nothing more boring than other people's sex lives. Thanks to the sweetness and innocence of many the graphic accounts included in this 85-minute offering, he goes far toward succeeding at his noble, if eventually futile, goal

Davenport, who also directs the enterprise, took the idea for this mildly prurient venture from MyFirstTime.com, a website started in 1996 that has racked up confessions from more than 41,000 contributors, some of which provide the basis for this show. He also gets considerable help from his four actors -- Bill Dawes, Josh Heine, Kathy Searle, and Cydnee Welburn -- who lend the outspoken tales conviction while never once breaking into uncontrollable giggles.

In addition to a set consisting of four stools, Matthew A. Smith's production design prominently features a screen displaying various pertinent statistics. For instance, are you aware that "In the United States the average age [for virginity loss] is 15.8"? And, hey, will that number rise or lower as a result of this show? Oh, yes, audience members fill out cards before the show that are eventually incorporated into the proceedings.

What Davenport ostensibly has in mind with My First Time -- and what he makes explicit in a few concluding moral-bearing slides -- is to make theater a proper venue for sex education at a time when it's desperately needed. Interestingly, he may even make headway since the response from the audience at the performance I attended was more the warm-and-understanding variety than the nervous-laughter type.

For some reason, the most focused-on element in the show is where initial male and female deflowerings have occurred. The spectrum ranges from basements and storage rooms to luxury hotels. Unsurprisingly, automobiles figure in as well. Most of the reminiscences are heterosexual, although there's one story of incipient homosexual involvement and one of lesbian experimentation. Rape is mentioned, but not more than once or twice. Although the woeful admission "he gave me crabs" is heard, there's no mention of sexually transmitted diseases, most noticeably AIDS. It's possible, albeit improbable, that of the 41,000-plus entries there are none covering the touchy health-threatening subject.

Dawes, whose profile is like something on an old coin, has high moments as an evangelical preacher advocating holding-out and as an unctuous womanizer giving an unsuspecting young girl her unwanted first time. The youthful Heine, looking like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth, has the gay-exploring speech and goes about it without any pro or con editorializing.

Searle, with her thin and serious face, is handed the most challenging assignment; she enacts the part of a woman deciding to lose her virginity to a brother diagnosed with terminal leukemia. (Searle also gets the funniest line -- about the male member -- but it won't be quoted here.) The statuesque Welburn may be the most touching when describing a thoroughly rewarding experience involving a man with cerebral palsy. The joy she exhibits transmits beautifully.

Unfortunately, before the last first time is spouted, My First Time has definitely taken up too much of our time. On the other hand, most patrons would probably prefer that to opus interruptus.