Theater review: ‘Intimacy’ — 3 stars

1 World Trade Center looms over the yet-to-be completed 3 World Trade Center on April 22, 2014.
1 World Trade Center looms over the yet-to-be completed 3 World Trade Center on April 22, 2014. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Steve Exum



In the kinky and ultra- liberated world of “Intimacy,” the latest work by controversial playwright Thomas Bradshaw, parents give constructive criticism to their 18-year-old daughter on her performance in a porn movie, and a teenage girl doesn’t mind when her father starts making out with her boyfriend.

In the tradition of David Mamet and Neil LaBute, Bradshaw has achieved notoriety in a short time through his extreme usage of nudity and violence. Like him or not, Bradshaw knows how to be theatrical and provocative and is definitely not a bore.

Reminiscent of the 1999 film “American Beauty,” “Intimacy” observes three seemingly normal, respectable families in an idyllic suburbia, including a film-obsessed teenage boy and his grieving widowed father, an assertive Hispanic girl and her strict father, and a well-educated, mixed-race couple with a really hot daughter.

Once it is revealed that the girl is an up-and-coming porn star, everyone’s values and morals are thrown into question and eventually out the window. By the end, all the families are producing and taking part in their own amateur porn film.

As silly as that sounds, this is at heart a sensitive portrait of everyday individuals struggling with their prejudices and inhibitions and finally entering a state of communal bliss. There is also a lot of humor mixed in and some talk on everyday racism.

As staged by Scott Elliott in a freewheeling spirit with an appealing cross-generational cast and open set design, “Intimacy” is a proudly divisive work that will turn off just as many people as it turns on. It is packed with excessive nudity, graphic sex acts, pornographic film clips and suggestions of certain bodily fluids.

You may find yourself feeling both appalled and entertained.