Sleeping With Straight Men, a review by Philip Lawrence
Today, a review by Philip Lawrence….
Sleeping With Straight Men by Ronnie Larsen
The relationship between gay and straight men can be a complex one. There is a undeniably a section of the gay community for whom seducing a hot straight guy is something of a fantasy, while there are some straight men for whom such attention would be deemed a threat to their manhood. By the same token there are many hetero fellas who would be willing to secretly dabble if the offer came along. And which of us when faced with a flattering advance from someone even of an opposite sexual persuasion wouldn’t be tempted?
Larsen’s play takes its inspiration from a real life event where a young gay guy confessed his undying love for a straight man on a national TV talk show with fatal results, but doesn’t really go much beyond that to adequately explore the characters or the consequences.
Having said that, the cast without exception work well with what they have. We are quickly introduced to Stanley, an optimistic trailer park gay boy with big city dreams- played by Wesley Dow with all the bounding energy of a loveable Avenue Q puppet – and the local waiter and object of Stanley’s misguided affection Lee played by a suitably hunky Adam Isdale.
Amy Anzel is deliciously juicy as the dispassionate and botoxed TV talk show host Jill Johnson but stealing the show is Andrew Beckett’s Brian, the TV show’s make up artist, lighting up the stage with every appearance, ever ready with a comedic swish of a brush or sptritz of hairspray.
The rest of the cast are all note worthy and have potential to shine, particularly Julie Ross (Mom) and Jill Regan (Lee’s girlfriend, Karen) if only they were given more meaty stuff to do.
David Sheild’s inventive design makes great use of the space with the slide out glitter curtain and lights that appear from nowhere while Paul Taylor-Mills’ direction is seamless, particularly on the obligatory sex scene which, with its tasteful dimming of the lights, was the most electric part of the show.
Where Larsen is clever is in remaining impartial as to who the real victim is here and who is to blame for the resulting situation. We are left to consider if it’s Stanley with his inappropriate affections, the proud and ultimately bigoted Lee or the exploitative TV execs that thought this mismatch would be a ratings winner regardless of the fallout for those involved?
But given the potential of this story, it’s a crime that the script fails to go beyond the superficial. Dealing with a serious incident in a light and frothy way doesn’t automatically make a dark comedy. The fatal gunshot comes out of nowhere and leads to a rushed conclusion and sentimental ending which should have had more weight than the previous sixty minutes had earned it.
With more depth this would be a heart rending and thought provoking piece of theatre. As is stands it’s like we’re being told the headlines and not given proper access to the human story beneath.
SLEEPING WITH STRAIGHT MEN
Above The Stag Theatre
January 11 – February 12, 2012
Tues- Sat 7,30pm; Sun 6pm