Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Review: Exactly What the Title Says

It’s always refreshing to be told exactly what you’re about to see before you see a piece of art. This is a Play About Being Gay is exactly that. A play in three very different acts, This is a Play About Being Gay examines the gay culture through an insightful lens, commenting through both an insider’s and outsider’s perspective. Written and directed by Teddy Nicholas, the play begins with James, a young homosexual, who is about to experience the typical journey any young homosexual must take, coming out. As the play continues, we follow James as he meets his first love who has a demon, his foray into the digital dating world, his understanding of what exactly the gay culture is, and pushing off his bipolar BFF who is ready to commit suicide.
While all this sounds redundant, Nicholas has put a fresh and comedic spin on this story. He cleverly points out and pokes fun at stereotypes. It’s a commentary that allows the audience to hear exactly society’s perception of gay culture, both the good and the bad. One way he does this is by bringing the audience right into the action. The decision to subtly raise the house lights periodically was a ingenious device. It allowed the audience to truly take in the messages. There’s nothing like an audience member being forced to reflect for all the right reasons. And this was certainly an audience that could relate to the stories. I found myself occasionally watching audience reactions, holding back laughter once the spotlight was suddenly on them.
Aside from all the gayness, one of the more interesting aspects of the play was the character of Lisa, played wonderfully by Jen Kwok. Lisa is James’s BFF with some issues of her own. She’s suicidal with a personality disorder. And as she said late in the play “If this were any other play, you would care more about my problems than all these faggots’ problems.” It was a moment that hit home for an abundance of reasons. The story wasn’t about her but maybe we needed to pay more attention to her. As Nicholas thoughtfully makes us realize, society may be focusing on the wrong things about what it’s like to be gay.
Nicholas assembled a group of actors who know funny and can easily captivate an audience. But it was the moments of seriousness that occasionally took a turn for the melodrama. The cast of five, each with their own unique skills, kept the momentum going from top to bottom. Cameron Michael Burns gave an exceptional turn as James, offering a well-balanced mix of heart and humor.
This is a Play About Being Gay won’t change the world but it will give you a much needed slap in the face that will open your eyes. There’re only two chances left to see it, so I suggest you hurry up and check it out at The Fresh Fruit Festival.