February 26, 2015

There were ample giggles throughout the first three parts of Chiara Atik’s Five Times in One Night, a series of comedy sketches with a lewd title and a tender heart at the Ensemble Studio Theater. But it was only in the fourth scene that wails and whimpers of pained recognition rang out. I saw women watching with hands over their mouths and one man who appeared to have shut his eyes entirely. Ms. Atik’s play examines what we talk about when we talk about sex, providing chats from the world’s first couple, Adam and Eve, to its last, Mel and Djuna, the lone survivors of A.D. 2119. Dylan Dawson and Darcy Fowler play all the roles and in the fourth sketch, set “next week,” they are Laura and Tim, a couple suffering an erotic slump. When Tim initiates a conversation about their ho-hum sex life, the tête-à-tête reveals uncomfortable truths — so uncomfortable that each one elicited a chorus of groans. Five Times is more often cute and maybe a little collegiate. Even the sixth-floor space, with its comfy couches and tricked out freight elevator, feels a little like a dorm hangout. Ms. Atik supplies al fresco copulation in a snakeless Garden of Eden and reimagines the letters of the medieval clerics Abelard and Heloise as a series of not-so-instant messages. “Such a fun night,” Heloise writes. “Next time maybe we’ll actually talk about Plato, though, O.K.? Ha.” The castration joke is also pretty good.