Sexually Transmitted Deity, Dramatist Revolutionary Army, at Stage Left Theatre. Although Jaimie-Lee Wise’s thoroughly black comedy promises “graphic sex rituals and nudity,” there isn’t much to recommend Sexually Transmitted Deity to would-be perverts except a bit of nakedness in the form of a flaccid male member. Unless, of course, talking dirty is your thing: the script is peppered with “cocks” and “pussies.”

Given Wise’s subject, a self-help cult for reformed adulterers, gratuitous sexual references are perhaps inevitable. But try as they might, Wise and the cast, directed by Harris Marcher, can’t transform psychosexual tension into anything even remotely erotic. There’s far too much artifice here for that. Which leaves Wise with the subject he should have focused on: the power struggle that develops among three characters–a self-styled priestess, a calculating transplant surgeon, and a woman desperately searching for her soul mate–trying to wrest control of the cult from one another.

When he’s not switching genres–noirish crime story, Lynchian thriller, perverse comedy of errors, to name a few–Wise manages some astounding insights. And the cast are to be applauded for remaining stubbornly committed to their roles. With a shift in focus and a bit of restraint, the play might climb out of its ghetto of mind-numbing self-indulgence. But as it stands, Wise’s incessant button pushing tests our patience.

–Nick Green