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Sunday, September 21, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 56.0° F  Overcast
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Broom Street Theater's Multiple O: Women on Top takes a refreshing look at female fantasies

The Broom Street Theater production of John Sable's Multiple O: Women on Top takes you on a delightful romp through several women's fantasies.

A French-infused one begins the production with a bang, as Michele attempts to sell her uncouth husband on a threesome. Transported to St. Tropez, she's a French woman straddling a very excited American student. He's excited, that is, until her husband arrives. But this fantasy husband is a far cry from her real-life one. He is infinitely more excited about exploring her -- and his while he's at it, his own -- fantasies. At the end, he warms to the idea, but in an unexpected way.

The second vignette begins at Bosom Books, where a book group is ostensibly discussing Nancy Friday's Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women's Sexual Fantasies. As is the case with some book clubs, there is very little discussion of the book, but after a fair amount of wine, the women start to reveal their own fantasies. One centers on Lindsey's wish to claim the physical accoutrements of masculinity and translate them into her own power. With Chloe, the fantasy takes a distinctly Harry Potter-esque turn as she familiarizes herself with some of Hogwarts' plaid-clad female students after a well-orchestrated spell smoothes the way. And Courtney recounts a heel-sprinkled rape fantasy set in a crowded subway. Diane's fantasy takes us through a sexy dance routine to the Pussycat Dolls' "Buttons." The vignette closes with an overview of many different fantasies as Mattie acts as a scientist studying female desire and imparting her experience to younger women.

The last montage is the least successful. It moves from one snippet to another too rapidly and lasts too long. But the other segments make up for it by featuring liberal doses of humor, fun choreography and some entertaining characters. Just seeing female sexual fantasies showcased is refreshing in a culture dominated by male-determined notions of desire (e.g., most pornography). A friend expressed concern that the play was written by a man, but I'm okay with that as long as we acknowledge that this is a sliver of the spectrum of female fantasies. Fantasy is a diverse realm, and cultivating acceptance of that diversity is valuable.

Multiple O: Women on Top is part of a larger project, so we'll see more pieces in the future, including a play addressing male sexuality and fantasies. Originally conceived as a way to share sex-positive messages with mainstream audiences, the project now focuses on adapting sexual nonfiction for the stage.

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