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The Sensitive Swashbuckler, at Stage Left Theatre. Billed as “late night sex role stereotype improv,” this piece conceived and performed by Gail Stern and Christian Murphy is theater with a conscience. Giving standard audience suggestions–a pickup line, a personality trait–an educational import, they delve into our fantasies about the opposite sex and illustrate how stereotypical gender roles can lead to miscommunication. There’s no doubt this approach would play well with college students–Stern and Murphy tour the show with a workshop–but it also works for a late-night audience.

Putting the good, the bad, and the ugly of dating on display, Stern and Murphy are engaging, affable moderators and performers. Some of their observations are familiar, but they offer some fresh, even funny takes on dating and date rape, and they have a wonderful chemistry. Some apparently scripted portions seem a bit stiff, but the production is still being tweaked. Both amusing and provocative (though likely to crush the momentum of a first date), The Sensitive Swashbuckler is made even more interesting by the audience’s insights–which have not been filtered through a workshop process. –Jenn Goddu