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A CurtainUp Connecticut Review
Set in an obviously chic Sag Harbor, which, for some of the ideas about gay life styles unveiled, might as well be Brigadoon, the village that only wakes up every 100 years. We’re introduced to a gay couple, Ted (Paul Anthony-Stewart) and Kevin (Bobby Steggert)m who have been together for ten years.
They’re definitely upwardly mobile, witness their house — large and stylishly appointed (credit scenic designer Andrew Jackness). Paul, seemingly the more mature partner (ages are not revealed) is an architect (read detail oriented), while Kevin is a struggling writer (read artsy, emotionally fuzzy). Our first view of their life together is one that most homophobes believe is true, two guys “playing house” as if gay couples don’t face and solve the daily problems that straights do.
Phone rings, doorbell rings —– in comes company! Kevin’s older sister, Donna (Kate Nowlin), whom he hasn’t seen since he and Ted became a couple, arrives unannounced in her “live-in-van.” She's accompanied by her precociousis, 15-year old daughter Lottie (Alexis Molnar). Sloppily dressed, physically bloated (more on than in a minute) and verbally gross as a drunken sailor, Donna is a nightmare. If not an actual homophobe, she is primed with enough verbal insults about gays that it’s a wonder Kevin even allows her into his house. But remember, this is a play abut family!
Ted is aghast but tolerant. Kevin seems to be able to see past Donna’s coarse persona to their past (unhappy) childhood.
It isn’t long before the reason for Donna’s “drop by” is revealed. She’s pregnant again, father unknown, and wants Kevin and Ted to adopt her baby. It’s clear this is less about her concern for the unborn child she treats like a large unwanted growth of cellulite, than it is to realize her selfish desire to take a job as a singer on a cruise ship and party on!
There’s a reason for Donna’s belief that she can make this happen. She knows that Kevin has always wanted to be a “mommy” and she’s come to prey on that emotional need. It is here that the playwright starts his wrong headed portrayal of gay couples. It's a portrait of gay relationships that always have a strong and a weak partner, i.e. a “Papa Bear” and a “Mama Bear.” Nonsense to that. Every relationship is a complex blend of strengths and weaknesses. It would seem logical, considering the times and the accessibility to the idea and process of gay adoption that Ted and Kevin have already discussed the issue and jointly made a decision against it.
Here comes Donna again with a doomsday prediction for Kevin (and all of his ilk!) “When you’re old” she warns, “you’ll be all alone.” Hang on. Maybe 50 years ago when gays where in the closet and “out” friends were few and far between there could have been a sense of aloneness, but not now. Gay friends, gay communities, friends that lovingly accept gays. . . there are no pre-destined lonely last act scenarios. These are just a few of the ways the playwright, abetted by the usually sensitive director, sets up a dilemma for Ted and Kevin.
There are quite a few laughs. Nowlin is so howlingly gross you can’t help but laugh, though at her and not with her. Most of her best lines are unprintable here but she’s taken with the guys’ coffee machine, which looks like it could “make espresso and give blow jobs” and the kitchen is so sexy she would like to “f- - -t.” Occasionally the playwright, who does know how to write swift dialog and sharp rejoinders, comes up with a delightful line as when the wistful Donna envisions a home of her own like Kevin’s “with wind chimes and fresh basil.”
What’s missing from the play is a head-on confrontation about what “family” means in today’s fractured, electronic age, Instead of a “life meter” all we get is a “laugh meter.”
The performances, within the characters’ dimensions, are excellent and nuanced. Nowlin, of course, steals the show but Molnar is right behind her as a perceptive coming of age woman, who desperately wants to escape not only her physical mother’s physical grasp but also her lack of spirituality.
Steggert exudes an effortless charm as Kevin, but it’s unfortunate he isn’t given the defining scene he needs to explain and defend his need for “parenthood.” Anthony-Steward is fine as the somewhat chilly Ted.
The resolution is too pat and opens the story up to unanswered questions about the direction the protagonists are now heading.If I seem to be on a rant, let me note one of the small, unnecessary touches that rankled me. In a scene where the two guys are preparing for bed at their dual bathroom sinks. Ted is meticulously applying creams to his face and neck, an action that reinforces his “gayness” even though many straight men are just as skin conscious. Here it distracts from the seriousness of what was being discussed, and instead reinforces a clichéd idea about the vanity and “femininity” of gay men.