Every year, June busts out all over with gay and lesbian play festivals, and this year is no exception. The Riant Theatre contributed with a three-evening cycle of 10 new one-act comedies, dramas and monologues featuring gay playwrights, directors, and actors or themes, six of which are discussed here.
Rockets Are Red, Violents Are Blue, by Roger Motti and directed by David McCarver, explores homophobia and fraternity hazing as a frightened college freshman (Matthew Drennan) recounts the events leading up to his best friend (Mr. Motti)'s on-campus murder to a not-quite-sympathetic attorney (Kelly Kirklyn).
In Two Of Wands, written and directed by Richard Morell, a rabid gay man (W. Allen Wrede) turns the tables on gay bashers, ranting endlessly about his cross-country murder spree and affinity for Julie Andrews -- Mary Poppins in particular.
The Ghost Of Mulberry Street, by Andrès J. Wrath, directed by Cesar Oliva-Bernal, is an existential hallucination ostensibly about a young man (Luke Pierucci) who may or may not have accidentally swallowed an overdose of medication and may or may not be dead.
Three Of Swords is another monologue written and directed by Richard Morell, featuring Anthony Ciccotelli as an aging Latino queen expounding loudly and long about lost loves with unconvincing self-satisfaction.
All The Ugly Maids, written by Roger Motti and sharply directed by Diane Miner, showcases Motti and actresses Lauren Bullock, Kelly Kirklyn, and Joan Preston (in spectacularly tacky wedding attire by Mrs. Rosa Motti) in a funny take on three bitchy bridesmaids and their even bitchier gay male friend dishing more than dirt in the ladies' room during a wedding reception.
Family Discussion, by W. Allen Wrede and directed by Larry Rosen, chronicles with mounting frustration the efforts of a young man (Andrew Cassese) to come out to his parents (Ron Harvey and Victoria Townsend), and their seemingly obtuse inability to focus on the subject at hand.
Production values were minimal but functional, and as with most endeavors of this kind, the quality of the writing, acting, and direction vacillated from merely adequate to exceptional. Performers Lauren Bullock, Andrew Cassese, Matthew Drennan, Kelly Kirklyn, Roger Motti and Joan Preston deserve special mention for their razor-sharp contributions, as well as writers Motti and W. Allen Wrede -- Motti for his sensitive, if underwritten, Rockets Are Red... and pseudo-sophisticated, laugh-out-loud funny All The Ugly Maids, and particularly Wrede, who nailed dysfunctional family habits in Family Discussion with a hilarious, definitive finesse that was only hinted at in the production his script received.
(Also featuring Arlin De Jesus Cruz, Robert Gorbea,
and Ana Ribeiro.)
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Copyright 1999 Doug DeVita