[Note: On January 19, 2007, the AP reported that the House of Representatives overhauled its page program in response to ongoing scandals "that left youngsters vulnerable to a lawmaker's sexual come-ons and helped Democrats win control of Congress."]

It's a familiar story inside the beltway: a powerful politician spends long hours at work and weeks or months away from his home district; an attractive young woman lands an internship in the offices of said politico; icon and admirer meet and affair ensues; young woman ends up missing or dead.

It would have been easy for playwright Rob Handel to harp away as the corporate media does at such scandals; instead, he uses the standard premises only to draw us in, before turning the subject upside down and inside out.

Aphrodisiac begins with a congressman and his mistress having a drink in a bar when their conversation takes a 180 over the announcement of her pregnancy. She turns up in the harbor and the feeding frenzy begins.

Jessica Robblee as Alona and Josh Robinson as Dan
Jessica Robblee as Alona
and Josh Robinson as Dan
Photo: Todd Webster, Curious Theatre Company
Handel draws the ill-fated Alona Waxman as a myriad of conflicting emotions that, as we see in Jessica Robblee's gritty performance, are a naturally cohesive expression of the young woman's point of view.

Josh Robinson is smooth and savvy as the silver-tongued, Teflon-coated office holder, Dan Ferris, slithering free of every precarious implication and threatening scenario, whether it's with Alona, the police, or the reporters.

Jessica Robblee as Alma and Josh Robinson Avery
Jessica Robblee as Alma
and Josh Robinson as Avery
Photo: Todd Webster, Curious Theatre Company
After a rearrangement of scenic and lighting designer Dick Devin's flexible and focused minimalist arrangement, Robinson and Robblee reappear as brother and sister—Avery and Alma—the congressman's kids, trying to cope with the infamy of their father and, by association, themselves.

Role-playing and imitating their parents, the media, and various celebrities, the siblings examine the situation from every angle, with the two actors dazzling us with their range and well-honed, sometimes uncanny, takes on well-known personalities—including Bill Clinton, Willie Nelson, Keith Richards.

Jessica Robblee as Alma, Josh Robinson as Avery, and Mare Trevathan as Monica
Jessica Robblee as Alma,
Josh Robinson as Avery,
and Mare Trevathan as Monica
Photo: Todd Webster, Curious Theatre Company
Who should walk into the bar but Monica Lewinsky. Mare Trevathan completely disarms us with her steady take on the woman who precipitated the Republican excoriation of Clinton in the House and Senate. (If only there was such temerity on the other side of the aisle, Bush would surely be subject to substantive impeachment hearings presently!) By the time Trevathan finishes her earthy and incisive exploration of Monica's perspective and motivation, the poor girl's completely unexpected redemption is upon us.

Equal credit for this delightful twist goes to director Bonnie Metzger for transparently unraveling Handel's challenging, free-associative tale, allowing us to gradually connect the dots and enjoy a number of transformational moments as we break out of our Orwellian conformity boxes and contemplate the situation from a fresh angle.

Curious Theatre Company's regional premiere of Rob Handel's Aphrodisiac runs through February 24th. 303-623-0524 or

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