May 20, 2015

The sex farce has all but disappeared from the contemporary stage, and those of you mourning its demise (Hello out there?) may want to check out “Permission,” the new play by Robert Askins, author of the darkly subversive “Hand to God,” now on Broadway. In Mr. Askins’s sex comedy with a twist — or rather a kink — two God-loving young couples discover corporal punishment as a way of spicing up their sex lives, or alleviating the tensions in their marriages, or a little of both. All in the name of Jesus, of course. The play, which opened on Wednesday at the Lucille Lortel Theater in an MCC Theater production, is less substantial than “Hand to God,” which manages to provide explosive entertainment value (via an obscenity-spewing puppet, mind you) while also movingly exploring the psychological fallout of loss. “Permission” has less heavy matters on its mind. (And — sad face — no paddle-wielding puppet.) Although this tale of young Christians embarking on unusual sexual adventures also suggests that once the libido has been given full rein, anarchy may not be far away, the play never digs deeply into the psyches of its characters, remaining content to exploit its gimmick for raucous, mildly raunchy comedy. Zach (Lucas Near-Verbrugghe) and Michelle (Nicole Lowrance) are hosting a casual dinner party as the play begins. She’s a little late with the preparation, which inspires Zach to hold up an admonitory finger — which we come to learn is a matter of counting the transgressions before strict discipline is in order.