IN THE NEXT ROOM OR THE VIBRATOR PLAY
Sarah Ruhl (2009)
This play explores the dichotomy of science and nature; man and woman. It is set at the dawn of the age of electricity, in the year 1880. The fashions for women in this period are referred to, coincidentally, as “The Natural Form.” The ideal silhouette is “the greatest possible flatness and straightness: a woman is a pencil covered with raiment” (Harpers Bazaar, October 23, 1875). In 1880, dress is particularly restrictive for movement and oppressive on women’s freedom. The lines contort the curves of the female body into hard, rigid arcs. This hard silhouette, combined with the trending heavy fabrics and dark colors, makes this period excellent for communicating the sexual restriction of the women in this play.