June 14, 2015

A bouquet of colored condoms is tossed in the air, like naughty confetti, in “The Qualms,” the latest play from the Pulitzer Prize-winning provocateur Bruce Norris. But while sex is theoretically on the menu in Mr. Norris’s comedy, about a quartet of erotically adventurous couples, the main course (which is to say intercourse) never quite arrives. Those condoms, I’m afraid, are made airborne more out of frustration than excitement. The play, which opened on Sunday at Playwrights Horizons, is set at a handsomely furnished beachside condominium. Gathering on a summer evening are a diverse group of men and women, exclusively (or at least apparently) heterosexual and partnered or married, reuniting for one of this informal club’s regularly scheduled evenings of sexual hedonism. As their guests arrive, the hosts — the 40-something Gary (John Procaccino, doing a good 21st-century hippie) and his lovely and endearingly dim partner, Teri (Kate Arrington) — are preparing the pork loin (with a “smoky chipotle rub”) and offering beverages. The first pair to show up, perhaps out of anxiety, are newbies to these rites. Chris (Jeremy Shamos) and Kristy (Sarah Goldberg) are a recently married couple who have never dallied with others. They met Gary and Teri in Mexico and learned about their sexual exploration, and after recent tension in their marriage have decided to give it a try. (This isn’t particularly logical, given that Chris’s inflamed jealousy was at issue.)