At this point in the evolution of gay theatre, the use of musical-comedy icons (Ethel Merman and Gypsy in particular) to make salient subtextual points could be considered a bit recherché, or in some corners even offensive. However, in Anthony Giunta's new comedy, Dotted Line (running in repertory with his Even Steven and A Wink and a Smile), they serve to illuminate the difference a scant 15 years can make. While it has never been
easy to come out and reconcile one's masculinity with one's homosexuality, for gay men born before Stonewall the role models were somewhat limited, while those born after have a somewhat larger range of choices to emulate.
The story, concerning Andrew, a 37-year-old unemployed gay executive, and Brian, his "straight" 23-year-old roommate, is fairly standard stuff. Andrew has a history of playing it safe and falling for the wrong man, while Brian is struggling with his sexuality ("Take me out," he pleads poignantly to Andrew at the end of Act One). As their relationship heats up in Act Two, Brian's willingness to embrace long-term commitment crashes headlong into Andrew's inability to commit. What lifted this production from the commonplace were Mr. Giunta's humorous but acute observations of the male psyche. Any female wishing that a certain male friend were straight should see this production. Men are men, gay or straight. In addition, Giunta has a knack for writing sharply defined characters that, despite their sometimes heinous behavior toward each other, are also very likable human beings.
Dotted Line also benefited from a taut, focused production under the smooth direction of Mark Harborth. There was not one weak link in the four-member ensemble. Amy Bouril's sensitive reading of Brian's bewildered girlfriend Diane was touching, and Paul Amodeo was a strong, sexy presence as Joe, an openly gay priest and the supposed love of Andrew's life. As Brian, Jason Roth gave a richly balanced performance that was endearingly vulnerable and charming. Kenneth Dine excelled as the fussy Andrew, giving a multi-layered portrayal that grew in complexity as the evening progressed.
F.T. Ebb's beautifully finished set gave a solid, professional feel to the evening, as did, to a slightly lesser extent, the attractive and functional lights and costumes by Wendy Range and Al Roach.
Though not always cutting-edge, Dotted Line succeeded because
of its eloquent writing, sensitive direction, and superb ensemble
playing, a funny, moving example of what can be accomplished when
all of the elements are working together to form a unified whole.
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Copyright 1999 Doug DeVita