ADVERTISING AT CURTAINUP
Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
A CurtainUp Review
Slipping is a coming-of-age story about Eli (Seth Numrich), a gay high school senior. Following his father's suicide, Eli has moved from San Francisco to Des Moines with his mother, Jan (Meg Gibson).
Back in San Francisco, Eli's boyfriend, Chris (Adam Driver), was a sadistic, vindictive young man who brutalized Eli and left him so scarred he is almost incapable of forming another relationship. But in Iowa he meets the sweet, all-American Jake (MacLeod Andrews), who teaches him how to love again. The scenes careen back and forth between Iowa and California, allowing for a heavy-handed comparison of the sweet and sour boyfriends.
But Eli has much more to contend with. His mother, it turns out, was not only unfaithful to his father but she never loved the poor schlemiel to begin with. And she apparently made little effort to hide her affairs from this patient and loving husband. No wonder he killed himself.
Eli, on the other hand, always loved his father, who enjoyed telling dirty jokes and kept little lists reminding him to look up obscure facts, often to he could please his wife or son. Eli could never understand why his father refused to assert himself. (So, of course, he has become a younger, gayer version of his father.) He wishes it were his mother and not his father who had died.
It's too bad Eli's father never appears onstage. He is the most interesting character in the play. It would have been great to find out how he felt about his son and wife. And it certainly would have been informative to discover how he would have reacted to having a gay son (one suspects with love and understanding).
If Slipping is truly a personal story, then it is remarkably like a host of other tales of gay angst — the boyfriend who is reluctant to tell the world about his sexual orientation, the sadistic lover who insists he is not gay, the disengaged mother. It sometimes seems as if these characters escaped from another play and quietly slipped into this one – honestly, no pun intended.
Director Kirsten Kelly's attempt to tell this story with a single set is every bit as misinformed and confusing as the script. Nor has she resisted the self-defeating lure of nudity onstage (not once, but several times).
Perhaps, given the circumstances, it's not fair to expect the actors to deliver sterling performances. Could they have made original or at least somewhat interesting characters out of the material Talbott gave them?
Talbott writes, "Slipping is a love story about two boys in a suburb in Iowa in 2006 at the shore of legalized marriage and Obama. Maybe that means it's about hope and change." Real hope and change might mean seeing plays that depict gay people as something more than a collection of anxieties, neuroses and sadomasochistic impulses.
Try onlineseats.com for great seats to
The Little Mermaid
Shrek The Musical
In the Heights
Playbill 2007-08 Yearbook
Leonard Maltin's 2008 Movie Guide