A Loss of Color

By Timothy Ford
Directed by Jeff Seabaugh
NativeAliens Theatre Collective
John Houseman Theater Center Studio Too
Non-union production (closed)
Review by Adam Cooper

Timothy Ford’s A Loss of Color is a wrenchingly tedious and trite play about a young actor’s coming out to his family of eccentrics. Lacking structure, compelling characters, and dramatic action, this uncreative play attempts to explore the travails of trying to celebrate one’s identity with loved ones who themselves have trouble embracing their own realities. With facile, flat-footed humor and kitschy, sophomoric breakages of the fourth wall, this play instantly dated itself in its attempt to reckon with important issues of acceptance via its self-indulgent absurdism.

Eric (John DeSilvestri), the actor who has trouble being himself, leads the cast of wafer-thin characters. He comes home to his dutiful, Catholic mom (Cara Vander Weil), his Alzheimer’s-suffering dad (Scott Gilmore), and his pathologically paranoid brother Terrance (Andy Melton) but is unable to share his news because of problems with forgetfulness and procrastination. His other uprooted brother, Frank (Peter Schuyler), and his wife, Maureen (Cynthia Russell), move back in with the parents but have little effect on dampening the wacky familial insanity.

The primary problem with this production was that its essence was a cavalcade of clichés. Lacking substantive characters with compelling relationships, the production relied on worn-out silliness and over-the-top performances to pass as theatre. Short on structure (the central issue of Eric’s coming out is essentially abandoned until the devicey climax of the play), the encumbered text was filled with unnecessary exposition that sent the plot off onto tiresome tangents.

The set design (Randy Lichtenwalner) gave the barest suggestion of the scenes and did not jive with the play’s style. Even the sound design was composed of well-worn schmaltzy snippets of ’60s and ’70s TV themes to accompany the onstage antics. Jeff Seabaugh’s direction simply caved to the text’s worst tendencies. At a time when politicians deny gay and lesbian couples the right to marry, and brazenly license homophobia as an acceptable thread of public discourse, the issues affecting the lives of LGBT individuals merit much superior treatment.

(Also featuring Nancy Rogers and Stephen Kaplan.)

Box Score:

Writing: 0
Directing: 0
Acting: 0
Set: 0
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 0

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Copyright 2005 Adam Cooper