Get a room, you two,” one is tempted to shout during a performance of Blackbird, except the two principals already have a suitable chamber: It’s a garbage-strewn, fluorescently lit, color-cidal employee break area in an anodyne industrial building located squarely in Anyburb, u.s.a. This clinically unattractive setting—nowhere but everywhere—is meant to harmonize with the polluted nature of the relationship between the play’s two lead characters, a woman and the man with whom she had a sexual encounter fifteen years ago when she was twelve and he was about forty. But I found the room a more appropriate analogue for the sordid impulses of playwrights who are forever clambering to exploit some fresh sexual frontier.

Blackbird is one of those “shattering,”...


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