Theater J, 1529 16th St. NW. Wednesday to Nov. 27. www.theaterj.org. 800-494-8497.
Not your typical grammar school
In Doorway Arts Ensemble’s “Sex and Education,” Joe, the prototypical basketball star, is held hostage by Miss Edwards, an uptight English teacher clocking in her last day on the job. Miss Edwards intercepts a note that Joe tried to pass his girlfriend, Hannah (who, as the Law of High School Relationships requires, is a cheerleader), and Joe must remain in Miss Edwards’s classroom until the note — a profanity-laced effort at persuading Hannah to have sex with him — is grammatically correct.
This raises some questions. Why would a prim female educator promote teen sex? Has any woman in the history of intercourse consented to sex only on the grounds her suitor’s request was expressed in perfect English? Didn’t students stop passing notes on paper in 2001?
Just . . . go with it. The pleasure in this production stems from the verbal sparring among radically different individuals, characters who shock by speaking deliberately out of character.
Playwright Lissa Levin was inspired by her own experience as the mother of a high school athlete; she taught her son, a basketball player utterly uninterested in English class, the parts of speech by speaking like a resident of South Park. (Her lesson began with a simple: “F--- you. What’s the object of the sentence? You.”)
Levin describes the play as “a valentine to teachers and a valentine to the importance of English grammar.” The crux of the story lies in “how the wisdom and life experience that comes from [sex] is actually similar to all those things that come from when you’re an educated person.”
Miss Edwards sneaks a grammar lesson into a bawdy discussion of sex for the academia-averse athlete like cookbook writer Jessica Se
infeld spikes brownies with spinach for vegetable-phobic children. Although much of the discussion is between Joe (played by Jonathan Douglas) and Miss Edwards (Ellen Mansueto), Hannah (Emily Thompson, in her professional stage debut) makes cameos throughout, shaking her pompoms while chanting a list of auxiliary verbs.
Levin hopes the play allows audiences to see language in a new light. “One of the goals of ‘Sex and Education’ was to make grammar sexy.”
Theater 2 in the Cultural Art Center Montgomery College , 7995 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring. Friday to Nov. 20. www.doorwayarts.org. 240-567-5775.