New theatre company takes on taboo with exciting comedy-drama

Matthew Wiwchar, Ciera Vadnais and Rachel McLaughlin perform in "In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play)," the debut production by Lolabrickida Theatre. (Supplied / photo by Adam Clancy)

A new Saskatoon theatre company – and a play about vibrators – hopes to get the city buzzing as we start the summer.

Lolabrickida Theatre is set to make its debut on June 12 at the Remai Arts Centre BackStage Stage with the Tony Award-nominated comedy-drama In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play).

Laura Negraeff, who has theatre experience with various professional and community theatre organizations in the city, was searching for theatre opportunities for herself when she considered starting her own company.

Negraeff had attended a joint 25th Street Theatre and Persephone Theatre workshop on auditioning, and she said one of her biggest takeaways — besides the advice to just keep auditioning — was that if you didn’t see the opportunities you want, go and make them for yourself.

“I came across this particular script, and I thought ‘that would be a perfect one to launch my own company,'” Negraeff said. “The more I thought about why I wanted to do this, the more I realized it’s rooted in some deep values and a sense of purpose.”

Like the name suggests, In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play) strongly features a vibrator — the play follows electrical scientist Dr. Givings in the 1800s, a man who struggles with intimacy in his marriage, as he accidentally invents the vibrator as a cure for female hysteria.

Despite the overtly sexual implications of the title, Negraeff said the show itself isn’t all about sex. While themes like sexuality and intimacy are part of the play, she said other themes like identity and relationships are also explored through the many deep and interesting characters.

“The vibrator is the catalyst that brings the characters together, and acts as an instrument for some of the self-discovery, but not in the way that you think,” she said. “The way that it’s portrayed, it’s as a medical procedure. It helps them understand their bodies, question their relationships … It would be wrong to say it’s not a central theme, but not in the way we think of a vibrator in modern society.”

Negraeff said one of the hallmarks of her new company would be taking on plays that aren’t afraid to tackle some of those more taboo topics. As Negraeff puts it, she hopes Lolabrickida Theatre can be a complement and not a competitor to the other theatre companies in the city.

“I think we’re adding an element,” she said. “My real hope is it can create opportunities for people in theatre.”

With In the Next Room, Negraeff said audiences will get to see a play that brings both seriousness and levity. Those are the kinds of stories Negraeff wants to tell, and In the Next Room promises to take on some serious topics — but if the name is any indication, there’s going to be plenty of silliness mixed in as well.

“If the title of the play alone made you intrigued, come see it. If it made you a little scared, still come see it,” Negraeff said. “There’s lots of irreverent humour … but for the people who think it sounds intimidating, those are the people who need to see the show even more.”

In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play) runs from June 12 to 16 at the Remai Arts Centre BackStage Stage. Tickets can be found at

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