SOME MEN needs editing
Top row: Matthew Vierling, P.A. Cooley, Dann Howard, Tim Redmond. Middle row: George Patrick Scott, Patrick Michael Dukeman, Chritopher Morrell. Bottom row: Steve Cox and Brandon Finch.
SOME MEN by Terrence McNally, directed by Ed Decker. New
TOP NOTCH CAST SALVAGES OVERLY AMBITIOUS PLAY
Director Ed Decker is rightfully an ardent admirer of author Terrence McNally and the New Conservatory Theatre (NCTC) has lavished attention on a number of his plays, including the world premiere of Crucifixion in 2005. Once again, Decker has rounded up a great cast/production crew and staged Some Men with a deft touch salvaging the sprawling construction of this overly ambitious play.
McNally has written a loving history of the trials and tribulations gay men have endured over the past half century, the era in which he has lived. Within that period, and in his personal life, love has blossomed within the turmoil of social upheaval. References to places, social thought and time sequences of significant gains in gay acceptance and equality are extremely accurate. However, the non-chronological construction and the use of only nine actors to play 52 roles are at time confusing. Further, many of the references to gay hangouts and ardent attachment of gay men to specific professional female singers/songs are “in references” recognizable mainly to mature gays. That being said, the opening night audience roared with laughter at the “in” gay zingers.
Written in 2006 it becomes more cogent today after the passage of Proposition 8 banning gay marriage. The stories begins with all the present day characters attending a gay marriage ceremony at the Waldorf Hotel with voice-over of the minister asking the sacred vows “ do you . . . take this man. . . to be your lawful wedded spouse.” As a questionable juxtaposition, the next scene takes place in the not too distant past, has Bernie (Dann Howard), still married with two children, engaging in an assignation with a hustler (Tim Redmond) in a hotel room. McNally then shifts to the present with a funeral for a serviceman killed in Iraq with his soldier lover Paul (Mathew Vierling) bringing the flag used to drape the coffin to the father (P.A. Cooley) who refuses to accept that his son was gay. The next scene reverts to 1920 with an affluent Jewish banker’s son engaging in a sexual romp with a working class Irish chauffeur (Brandon Finch) suggesting that gay love has no barriers. Thus in the first four scenes shift from the present, to recent past, to the present and to the past of the 1920s.
In attempting to encompass significant times in gay history, McNally devises eclectic scenes: An NY Athletic Club dining room, a gay
The PC chat room, taking place before the advent of web cams, is a hoot when the participants become anything the respondent desires such as Buffed in Chelsea (P.A. Coley), Top Dog (Vierling), Camus (Patrick Michael Dukeman) and Boytoy (Brandon Finch). Patrick Michael Dukeman’s entrance into the gay nightclub in drag is an absolute marvel without ever relying on cliché body and hand movements ending with a just audible, expressive snips from “Over the Rainbow” “Wish You Were Here” and “Come to the Cabaret.” George Patrick Scott has his individual turn as Angel Eyes in a 1920s Harlem night club act with a throat –grabbing rendition of the Lorenz Hart classic “10 Cents a Dance.” P. A. Cooley and Patrick Michael Dukeman almost steal the show in their perfect pairing as two long time lovers.
The final scene returns to the wedding service at the Waldorf leaving us with a hopeful note that things will get better and gay marriage will(should) be here to stay.
Kedar K. Adour, MD
Courtesy of www.theatreworldinternetmagazine.com