Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Temperamentals

photo: Michael Portainiere/

Jon Marans' play is unfocused: it attempts to be both a history lesson about the gay activism of the Mattichine Society in the early 1950's and a bittersweet love story about the group's founders, Harry Hay and Rudi Gernreich. As a result it shortchanges both: we watch events unfold as in a history play that haven't been shaped for thematic impact. We lose touch with the activism - apart from affording the opportunity for get-togethers for some "temperamenatals" (a code word from the era for "homosexuals") the play doesn't illuminate the Mattichine Society; there's also a lack of dramatic urgency due to the absence of any strong enemy of gay rights in the play. The love story between the two men is too vaguely rendered to convince: despite the efforts of Thomas Jay Ryan as Hay and Ugly Betty's Michael Urie as Gernreich, the men essentially have halos stuck over their heads.

No comments: