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"Spank! Harder comes to Buffalo for its ""second cumming"""

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The Spectrum

"Turn those cellphones to vibrate" the announcer calls over the loudspeakers.

Even before the audience is finished fiddling with their phones, the stage lights up. A red X appears on the back wall, "It's Raining Men" begins pounding through the auditorium and two shirtless men start grinding the floor of the stage with everything they've got.

On Thursday night, a crowd of predominantly women watched the much-anticipated Spank! Harder, the follow-up parody to Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody, in UB's Center For the Arts.

With obscene language by the bucketload and enough bare torsos to last an audience member for next century, Spank! Harder is not for the tight-lipped.

For those who missed Spank!, or refused on literary principle to read E. L. James' "50 Shades Trilogy," the opening five minutes give the audience a quick recap. Luckily, James was "hardly writing Dickens," according to the play, so it's really just a quick job summarizing all of the couples', well, quick jobs.

With only four cast members and four main characters, the summary is easy to follow. There's Tasha Woode, our indecisive protagonist, Hugh Hanson, her S&M-loving dominant, Carter Carnegie, the man in the middle, and E.B. Janet (E.B.J), our author and narrator.

Once the recap is over, we rejoin Tasha and Hugh to see what they're up to - "Spoiler alert: they're up to sex,"Janet notes.

We meet the pair in a scene that is set up like a Willy Wonka playground for bondage lovers - all set to the tune of "Pure Imagination" (just change "imagination" to "domination").

Spank! Harder manages to keep itself close to the original plotline of the "50 Shades Trilogy," but it focuses on breaking barriers with its smart, yet obvious, humor that hits the audience right in the face. There's no confusion when E.B.J announces she's here for her "second cumming" - everyone knows what she means.

With musical numbers scattered throughout for good measure, Spank! Harder follows Tasha as she tries to choose between Hugh and Carter.

Hugh describes how his relationship with Tasha revolves around "mind-blowing sex; we don't talk about our feelings and I buy you the occasional giraffe."

But that just isn't enough for little Tasha. She wants what she hasn't gotten - a nice, normal, respectable boyfriend. So, with E.B.J's help, she writes one into the story.

Imagine a man so nice that he's vomit-inducing - that's Carter Carnegie. He enters the stage, and Tasha's fictional life, with a choreographed '90s dance set to The Backstreet Boys.

As the play continues, it becomes increasingly obvious that Tasha is the world's dumbest protagonist. She succumbs to all sexual offerings, even when Hugh gets jealous and purchases her "platonic Mexican friend" Jos?(c) out of jealousy.

The play isn't going to win awards for its choreography or in-depth characterization, but its smart wit and clever rewriting of popular songs is parody at its finest, taking tunes like Robin Thicke's chart-topping "Blurred Lines," whichwas criticized for its degrading attitude toward women, and turning the tables by making men sex objects instead.

Spank! Harder takes pop culture and rips it to shreds. The characters alluded to almost every popular trend imaginable, from unfashionable UGG Boots to the addictive finger tapping of Candy Crush. It's a no-holding-back parody of the culture in which we live, where a book about S&M can outsell some of the world's most elegant writers.

The play's clever parodies and sexual antics clearly entertained the crowd. Though the theater wasn't packed, laughter still filled the auditorium throughout the performance.

Though the audience was composed primarily of women, some males braved the theater of females, like Devin Kiblin, a sophomore accounting major in the School of Management.

"What can I say - even though it was aimed towards a female audience, it was just so awkwardly funny," Kiblin said. "The rendition of 'Blurred Lines' was hilarious, but I don't think I ever want to see a guy doing that to a floor ever again."

Just when there seems to be no more boundaries to break, E.B.J takes a walk into the audience, looking for Hanson's next submissive. The room divides, as half of the crowd sits looking at their shoes, praying that they'd be ignored, while the other half jumps from their seats in desperation.

The lucky lady selected was Rebecca Nalbach, who voluntarily walked to the stage to be serenaded with an S&M version of "I Could Be Your Hero" - of course changed to "I Could Be Your Master."

Some women would blush and shy away at the prospect of a theater of people watching as a dominant serenaded them - but not Rebecca. She shook her butt, spread her legs and had the whole audience doubling overt from laughing.

"It was hotter than hot," Nalbach said after the show.

And what better way is there to describe a show that features at least seven minutes of air humping alongside the classic ensemble of male thongs and rip-off Velcro pants?

email: arts@ubspectrum.com



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