At CELEBRATION THEATRE
I WOULD NEVER SEE IT BECAUSE: A play about some dude coming to terms with being gay in an unsympathetic world at Celebration Theatre. Real original. Yawn.
THAT’S NOT FAIR BECAUSE: Fuck you is why. Celebration produces shows of a consistent quality with a solid dedication to their message and audience. They have an incredibly talented and supportive company and, by the way, are in no way strangers to the LA area awards shows (generally, if you want to have a good time, sit next to the Celebration crew or the Sacred Fools).
SO WHY SHOULD I SEE IT?
As usual, this is a fantastic ensemble. Daniel Taylor’s lead performance as Steven Carter varies from adorable to heart-rending to inspiring. Steven’s gradual evolution is brilliantly rendered by Daniel and I don’t want to take at all away from it, but the backdrop of what feels like dozens of supporting characters is what really blew me away about this show. Matthew Henerson in particular does some of the heaviest lifting I’ve seen on stage all year. Practically playing two different characters in the same scene, he totally disappears into each character - and, remarkably, accent. In fact, overall, the accents for this show are excellent. The character tableaus are the icing on the cake served by a director who trusts his ensemble to deliver with a minimum of extraneous properties, especially ambitious considering the almost cinematic number of locations.
WHAT AREN’T YOU TELLING ME?
This was produced once by Celebration in 2001, and it’s worrying to me how fresh this feels. The reason Celebration keeps telling stories like this is because very little has changed. We continue to see situations like this play all over the world, often in far more sinister ways. Until this type of story no longer feels particularly emotionally resonant with the school-age zeitgeist, I’ll never fault this company or others like it for devoting their hard work to telling such troubling tales with such virtuosity.
And now I’ve bummed you out by that prospect, go see the show because it turns out, it gets better. Also the final moment is particularly deserving of most appropriate use of an Erasure song in live theatre.
Also also you only have two chances to get out to it, so what the hell, get over there.
SO WHAT DID YOU THINK?
I had a wonderful evening watching a story unfold which I’ve often been told. I didn’t mind at all paying for my ticket and left with a smile on my face after having spent an evening in a company of mostly strangers sharing an emotional experience. That is everything I like about theatre.