The past always seems to haunt a person. And with the aid of some herbal remedies, Walt Whitman will haunt you too. With Walt as his guide, a young gay man confronts his demons of his past and present in order to better his future. Like Poetry is a beautiful play about coping with life while trying to live it.
Written by Kristian O’Hare, Like Poetry follows the Stagger, a young man who goes on a journey to squash his repressed memory like a bug. Told through the present and flashbacks, we watch as Stagger visits an unorthodox doctor who prescribes a combination of pills and Walt Whitman to help him navigate his mind. On the way, Stagger falls for his neighbor Trout, visits a club where clothes aren’t allowed, and recalls significant moments with his parents and bug-loving best friend, all the while being led by Walt Whitman himself. A pill-enduced fantasy? Perhaps, but Whitman helps Stagger find inner peace. O’Hare writes a very poetic yet comfortable dialogue that is engaging. It’s a prevalent story with a fantastical twist, yet it’s fresh. The cast as a whole is pretty solid. Jim deProphetis is delightful as Trout, Stagger’s “gaybor.” From his first appearance, you can’t help but root for Stagger and Trout to get together. Matt Renskers is a standout as Card. Renskers gets to put his comic skills on display bringing life to the ill-fated youngster. Robert Crozier gives a fine performance as Stagger. He doesn’t have the depth Renskers has when they play younger versions of themselves, but he’s enjoyable to watch throughout. Andrew Dawson is fun as the Doc, offering a moment of firmness in his final scene with Stagger. Director Audrey Alford does a phenomenal job making the massive Ellen Steward work for the play. She uses the space to it’s full capacity, never allowing her cast to be swallowed.
Like Poetry is a nice slice of life in a theatrical aspect. It’s poignant and funny, allowing you to walk from the theater with solace.