photo: Antoine Tempe
Terrence McNally's new play begins and ends in current times as a group of gay men gather at a same-sex wedding, but it isn't some polemic that pleads for marriage rights. The thoughtful, unpretentiously ambitious and often very touching play seems designed to ask gay men if marriage is really what we want and to take stock of this particular moment in the context of gay American history. The play flashes back through the ancestory of its characters, who are often depicted against the backdrop of a key moment or a defining trend in 20th century gay life: we're in a piano bar during the Stonewall riots, where a drag queen is initially ostracized, or in a gay nightclub during the Harlem Renaissance, or in St. Vincent's Hospital in the 1980s while the AIDS crisis hits. The effect is almost collage-like, as we zigzag from bathhouses to chatrooms from one decade to another, and although this production doesn't always achieve clarity on account of the (uniformly excellent) cast of nine doing double or triple duty, the notes that McNally strikes by juxtaposing gay consciousness past and present are what really matter more than always knowing who is who. I could go on and on about this play - McNally's shrewd use of music, the recurring moments where the gay community perpetrates its own prejudices on others, the moments where characters struggle with sexual compulsiveness while looking for love. I haven't been as personally affected by a McNally play since The Lisbon Traviata.
Also blogged by: [Christopher] [David]