Jonah Lisa Dyer and Stephen Dyer are writing the film based on a story by Howard Gensler. Filming will begin in London this month. "Hysteria" is aiming for a 2011 theatrical release.
Tanya Wexler will direct the film, described as a romantic comedy, which will cast Pryce (Miss Saigon, "Evita") as a physician and father to Gyllenhaal (Uncle Vanya, "Secretary"). The cast will also feature Hugh Dancy (The Pride, Journey's End) and Rupert Everett (Blithe Spirit, "My Best Friend's Wedding") as colleagues who aid in the discovery.
Gyllenhaal told the Guardian, "I play a firecracker whose father is a doctor who is in the business of curing hysterical women. He cures them basically by getting them off and that actually happened. I end up having a sort of unexpected love affair with this guy who works for him, and who by mistake invents the vibrator."
The film is reminiscent of Sarah Ruhl's Tony Award-nominated play In the Next Room or the vibrator play, which debuted on Broadway in 2009. Ruhl is not attached to the film project.
Ruhl's serious, but often comical play, centered on an American doctor in the late 19th century who, with the use of his invention, treated women for hysteria by providing "paroxysms" (known today as an orgasm). The play navigated the personal and sexual distance between men and woman in the Victorian era, and focused on the relationship between the doctor and his young wife.