In the first scene, we watch the former command the latter to humiliate him verbally—S&M without the whips and chains. “You know what I’ve done,” John (Tom Demenkoff) tells Clay (Cary Woodworth), and then he begs Clay to batter him with words.
There’s an interesting and very complicated relationship to explore here; I was immediately curious about the power dynamic—John wants Clay to beat him up, at least figuratively, but he’s still calling all the shots and paying the bill—and also about the element of hypocrisy, for John is presented as a powerful figure in the current administration, and what we see him do here—hire a prostitute (a male prostitute at that), ingest cocaine, drink a great deal, swear incessantly—presumably contradicts what his constituents think he stands for. There’s also the tantalizing question of what Clay knows that we thus far do not: what has John done to make him feel so guilty?
- Martin Denton, NYTheatre.com