Review: “The List” at the Players Theatre

Anthony J. Piccione

  • New York Theatre Critic

“How many people have you had sex with, and what would they say about you?”

That’s the central question that’s asked repeatedly in the show The List, and it’s also the one which the show revolves around. The brainchild of photographer turned director Kirra Cheers, this production is based on the true stories of one man’s – referred to only as “K” in this show – past sexual partners in real-life, with the creator tracking each of them down, in the hopes of getting them to divulge their stories for a supposed artistic project. It’s a concept that only feels more and more strange, and also lost my attention as an audience member, over the course of its performance.

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The show promotes itself as “a powerful take on how different people can view the same sexual experience”, but what that really means here is an exploration of one person’s private history, which only feels more and more creepy, the more I think about it. It asks some interesting questions, regarding topics of relationships and sexuality, but ultimately feels watered down, at best, due to the creepy nature of its hyper focus on not just one real-life person who the creator knows, but on several strangers whom she does not know. Furthermore, I’d say that certain parts of the show were well-written and vividly detailed, if inconsistent, but the fact that it’s all based on true stories means I can’t really give much credit to the creator herself, given that it’s not exactly something she created.

There are a few aspects of the production itself that are worthy of praise. The acting here is decent, with Kaci Hamilton proving to be a vibrant and captivating narrator for the show, and she – along with fellow performers Rica de Ocampo, Mia Christinis, and Kathleen O’Neal – all do a fine job. (While on this topic, I should also note that while there are many intimate and highly suggestive portrayals here, there is no graphic nudity – other than a brief moment where one actress exposes her breasts – in the show itself, unless you’re counting the usage of dildos as props.) Also, the music and lighting set the atmosphere of the show perfectly, and the usage of video projection works seamlessly. Beyond that, however, the whole thing comes off as not only creepy, but gradually dull and boring.

By the end of the show, there was a brief talkback with Ms. Cheers and a sex therapist regarding the show and the themes that are touched on…and again, it does explore some fascinating topics, and asks some interesting questions. However, given the unique nature of how Ms. Cheers chose to explore this topic, I couldn’t help but think that Ms. Cheers – if she wanted to explore these topics in a theatrical setting – should not have gone to such extraordinary efforts to document just one person’s real-life sexual experiences of just one person, and perhaps might have been better suited going a different route. If you’re someone who is interested in the topic of human sexuality and don’t mind the origins of how this project came to be, then I suppose this might interest you. Otherwise, I wouldn’t recommend seeing this dramatization of a truly bizarre research project.

“The List” – presented by Kirra Cheers – runs at the Players Theatre from May 18th-26th. For more information, please visit www.thelistbykirracheers.com.