Posts Tagged ‘Mart Crowley’

This play takes you on a surprising journey. It starts as a light comedy, turns bitchy and bitter and ends up positively vicious. Set amongst gay friends at a birthday party in New York City in 1968, it does feel like a bit of a museum piece now, but it does have a lot to say about the societal pressure and personal insecurities that underpinned the behaviours on show. 

It’s Harold’s party, but he’s the last to arrive. Couple Larry & Hank and singleton friends Donald, Emory and Bernard have already joined host Michael – oh, and Harold’s present from Emory, the midnight cowboy! Michael’s straight college friend Alan arrives unexpectedly to inject some homophobia into proceedings. What starts as gentle ribbing becomes pointed digs and point-scoring and as they drink more and more, bitching and bitterness. Then Michael suggests a game, which is where it becomes vicious; they are challenged to call someone they have loved and tell them that they love them.

It is a period piece, coming before the legalisation of homosexuality, and the decor, clothes, hair and camp mannerisms & language are faithfully reproduced. They do all seem a bit like caricatures today, but you have to put it in the context of its period. It feels odd, though, approaching a 1968 gay play in the same way you would a Rattigan or an Osborne.

The Park Theatre passes easily for a late 60’s Manhattan apartment and Rebecca Brower’s design makes great use of the space. The performances are all very good.

After an uncomfortable start, I warmed to it, though I’m not sure Mart Crowley’s play is a modern classic, more of a peek back to a curious past to remind us how far we’ve come.

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