One's company

Love Scenes

By David Pumo
Directed by Donna Jean Fogel
Gato Flaco Productions
The Duplex Cabaret Theater
61 Christopher St. (212/255-5438)
Closes Feb. 22
Review by Charles Battersby

The Off-Off-Broadway community is home to quite a few one-person shows each year. Often these one-person shows can be painfully self-indulgent, but Love Scenes, with its solid script and excellent performance, is a welcome addition to the fold.

Love Scenes is a series of monologs, each one featuring a different character grappling with some aspect of love. These situations range from recollections of past loves, to confrontations with potentially unfaithful lovers, and ultimately to a happy ending with a bride preparing for her wedding. All roles were played by the versatile and charming Moe Bertran, and all the characters were gay men.

The scenes often deal with universal issues, but some are centered on gay-specific themes, like a man who crashes his ex-lover’s wedding (to a woman), and ends up feeling a bit of sympathy for the bride, who’ll eventually have to deal with her closeted husband. There’s also a look at the gay rights movement when a man recounts his first public gay kiss, at a Barbra concert, no less. And let’s not forget the drag queen who’s not only happy to be a bride, but also happy to have earned a life-long partnership.

Playwright David Pumo has put in a lot of funny moments here, as well as tugging at heartstrings. Memorable lines include "I didn’t want a lover, I just wanted to fuck him a few hundred times." A touch of political timeliness is present when one character explains the difference between Democrats and Republicans "Republicans are really bad."

Pumo avoids many of the cheap tricks often used in one-person shows (i.e. there are no one-sided phone calls, or therapy sessions here) and the monologs have a very natural feel to them. The characters are a diverse lot and Bertran did an excellent job becoming them, often changing ethnicity and age from scene to scene.

Donna Jean Fogel’s direction was lots of fun, especially when she had her street hustler reenacting his sadomasochistic adventures for a friend. This director/writer/actor team has worked together before, and the sense of teamwork was apparent.

The set used only a few key set pieces; a coat rack for costumes, a table and chair. Just the minimum needed, which kept the Duplex’s small cabaret stage from feeling crowded.

Sound design mostly consisted of popular songs that crept in at the end of scenes, to punctuate their climaxes, then continued playing over the blackouts during the costume changes. Occasionally these costume changes went on for too long, but the crowd at the Duplex was hardly going to complain if they have to hear a couple minutes of Streisand.

Costumes ranged from a simple pair of briefs in one sexy scene, to a glitzy wedding ensemble for the final monolog of the night; all of which were well modeled by Bertran, and succeeded in helping to differentiate between the roles.

Love Scenes is not just a good show unto itself, but also an excellent example of how more one-person shows should be.

Box Score:

Writing: 2
Directing: 1
Acting: 2
Set: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2005 Charles Battersby