Aphrodisiac's run at City Lights Theater Company continues until Feb. 19.
Every few days, it seems, some “family values” politician is caught sleeping with an intern, soliciting sex in a restroom or asking his second wife for an open marriage. What boggles the mind, besides the hypocrisy involved, is how these men can engage in behavior that they know could destroy their careers.
Rob Handel’s Aphrodisiac, now at City Lights theater, is a political thriller—with a twist, which I’ll get to in a moment—that speculates about the mystery of the political beast. Based loosely on the Gary Condit–Chandra Levy affair of 2001, Aphrodisiac follows the case of Congressman Dan Ferris, who becomes embroiled in scandal after the disappearance of his mistress, Ilona Waxman.
In the opening scene, the married congressman (who, like Condit, had chastised Bill Clinton for his extramarital affair) is dining with Ilona. They quarrel and leave the restaurant, and after the scene ends, we learn that the poor girl has vanished. The play then throws us for a loop: The characters we saw were actually Ferris’ children, Alma and Avery, acting out the parts. The siblings, played by Kate McGrath and George Psarras, rarely see their father and have taken to role-playing as a way of demystifying him. The actual Dan Ferris never appears, except in offstage voiceovers.