October 20 – December 16, 2017

“Leave behind the stranglehold of convention and loosen your corset, you will breathe much better.”

This intimate and humorous story of awakening, equality, and the need for connection was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a Tony Award nominee for Best Play. It is the 1880s and Thomas Edison’s invention of the electric light has begun to change the fabric of daily life. Inspired by Edison’s discovery, scientist and inventor Dr. Givings experiments with a piece of machinery to treat the increasingly common affliction of female hysteria. When he starts to see a new patient regularly, his wife’s curiosity with the invention and what occurs “in the next room” grows, leading to discoveries of her own. Don’t miss this entertaining night of self-discovery which shows that human connection is not simply a means to an end, but a vital part of life itself.

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Production Team


* Member of Actors Equity Association

# Member of United Scenic Artists

~ Member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society

+ TimeLine Company Member

^ TimeLine Associate Artist

§ TimeLine Playwrights Collective


  • Chicago Tribune

    October 30, 2017

    3 STARS. “[Sarah] Ruhl’s very clever play … has been plugged in and amped up. … [director Mechelle] Moe’s fuller-throated version is far more unstinting from the start in its exploration of female sexuality and male ignorance thereof. … It’s like she took the show and gave it a firmer shove toward the right spot for the here and now.”

    —Chris Jones

  • Windy City Times

    November 2, 2017

    Hot stuff, fundamental stuff and surprisingly funny stuff … With a lot of irony and a touch of sarcasm, Ruhl’s women rule but she makes the men sympathetic as well, much preferring to educate them rather than punish them. It’s smart, gifted, inquisitive and compassionate playwriting.”

    —Jonathan Abarbanel

  • Chicago Theatre Reviews

    October 27, 2017

    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. “Beautifully directed with style, wit and sensitivity by actress and company member Mechelle Moe, Ruhl’s highly entertaining play is both playful and poignant … TimeLine presents an adult comedy that’s fun, unabashedly about sex, historically accurate and still relevant, even today.

    —Colin Douglas

  • Around the Town Chicago

    October 27, 2017

    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. “I found, that like a good wine, [this play] has mellowed and is even better. … The final scene will warm your heart and perhaps bring a tear to your eye. It did, mine!

    —Alan Bresloff

  • Stage and Cinema

    October 27, 2017

    RECOMMENDED. “Like Showtime’s brilliant Masters of Sex series, it cunningly contrasts and artfully confuses the short-term standards, technologies and evasions of sex with the rigors and rewards of textured love. … Eavesdropping at its most exciting.

    —Lawrence Bommer

  • Performink

    October 29, 2017

    CRITICS’ PICK. “I laughed out loud through much of the first act, in no small part thanks to the finely honed performances TimeLine’s ensemble gives us here. … TimeLine chose a powerfully relevant moment to bring Ruhl’s timely, gentle, and simultaneously funny and heart-wrenching play to Chicago audiences. In The Next Room, or the vibrator play offers an evening full of both enjoyment and contemplation.”

    —Rachel Weinberg

  • Picture This Post

    October 28, 2017

    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.Beneath the layers of costume designer Alison Siple’s gorgeous period clothing, their human hearts beat with overwhelming power. … The cast has no weak links. … In The Next Room, or the vibrator play catches America at the moment when electrical power pushed the nation forward as a world leader. But that simply cannot compete with the untamed electricity of the body and soul.”

    —Susan Lieberman

  • Third Coast Review

    October 31, 2017

    “A charming and titillating look at life in the bad old 19th century. … beautifully directed by Mechelle Moe … The design team for In the Next Room contributes spectacularly to the success of this production.”

    —Nancy Bishop

  • Buzz Center Stage

    October 31, 2017

    Sure to tickle audiences … Sarah Ruhl bursts nearly every female taboo of the time out of the closet … In the Next Room comes at just the right time.”

    —John Accrocco

  • Chicago Now

    October 30, 2017

    Hilarious, insightful and very liberating … [An] intimate and humorous story of awakening, women’s equality, and the human connections and discoveries.”

    —Rick and Brenda McCain

  • Hyde Park Herald

    November 8, 2017

    RECOMMENDED. “Fascinating [and] often funny … Director Mechelle Moe keeps it all in balance in TimeLine Theatre’s first-rate production.”

    —Anne Spiselman

  • Chicago Onstage

    November 10, 2017

    ★★★½ “[Director Mechelle] Moe has brought out the very best in her actors, who uniformly deliver excellent performances … A play I can easily recommend.”

    —Karen Topham


  • Rebellious Magazine

    November 13, 2017

    “Chicago is abuzz about TimeLine’s premiere Of ‘the vibrator play‘” Rebellious Magazine‘s Janet Arvia sits down with Director Mechelle Moe to discuss comedy, feminism and the role of technology in In The Next Room, or the vibrator play.

    Read the feature

  • Chicago Magazine

    November 28, 2017

    Chicago Magazine catches up with Rachel Flesher, intimacy coordinator for In the Next Room: The Vibrator Play, for an intimate conversation about on-stage sex, intimacy, and the ins-and-outs of 19th century sex-toy prototypes.

    Read the feature

Discussions & Events

  • Open Captioned Performance of IN THE NEXT ROOM
    Saturday, November 18 at 4pm

    Featuring a text display of words and sounds heard during the performance.

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  • IN THE NEXT ROOM: Company Member Discussion
    Sunday, November 19

    Join us for an informal chat with TimeLine’s Company Members after today’s performance.

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  • IN THE NEXT ROOM: PRE-Show Discussion
    Various dates

    Join us for an informal sneak peek into IN THE NEXT ROOM with members of the production team.

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  • IN THE NEXT ROOM: Sunday Scholars Series
    Sunday, December 10

    This one-hour post-show panel discussion features experts on the themes of the play.

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  • IN THE NEXT ROOM: Post-Show Discussion
    Various dates

    Join us for informal post-show discussions with members of the production team and cast.

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