Sunday, September 13, 2009

review - F*cking Men

CRITIC'S PICK
F*cking Men
written by Joe DiPietro
directed by Calvin Remsberg
Celebration Theatre
through October 25

Arthur Schnitzler's 19th century play La Ronde represents heterosexual lust and love within multiple encounters. Joe DiPietro bases his new play Fucking Men on La Ronde, but his treatment shows homosexual love via encounters such as blowjobs in the bushes, sex in the bathhouses, quickies in the confines of a broomcloset and then on to more intense lovemaking in chique hotel or private bedrooms. The American world premiere Fucking Men currently onstage @ the Celebration is a very affecting presentation of this gay lifestyle. Whether you are strictly into anonymous sex or are more prone toward a monogomous relationship, you will find yourself onstage. Young or old, rich or poor and irregardless of your occupation, you will be able to relate.
The 10 actors in the cast give extraordinary performances under Calvin Remsberg's liquid direction. Johnny Kostrey is the 'straight' soldier Steve, who uses escort John, Brian Dare, for the experience. You cannot help but to hate Steve at first, but then prepare to be surprised! Michael Rachlis is college student Kyle who likes a lot of sex and particularly with older men. Rachlis makes Kyle mischievously, yet adorably decadent. One of his encounters, Leo, Sean Galuszka, has a lover Jack, David Pevsner, and the only reason he is having 'extra-marital' sex is to keep up with his lover's array of tricks. Jeff Olson plays Ryan, a youthful but older porn star, in a very touching performance. Olson best conveys that deep sense of loneliness that all gays feel, even tough they refuse to admit it. A.J. Tannen plays Sammy, a very talkative playwright, who beds both Ryan and an obnoxious movie star Brandon, played to the hilt by Chad Borden. Tannen's nervous edge, akin to a Woody Allen type, provides terrific comic moments. Gregory Franklin is the older TV journalist Donald, who is living proof of just how urgent it is for a public figure to stay in the closet. Mike Ciriaco is graduate student Marco, completing the stellar ensemble.
As in the original La Ronde, characters appear in 2 consecutive scenes, except the first boy John who shows up again in the last, proving the old adage that what goes around, comes around. It is also an ode to survival ... and shows just how much our lives may profit from the kindness of strangers. Another effective gimmick utilized in the play is to have actors who are not in a particular scene deliver a snippet of a monologue in the middle of a scene from somewhere in the wings - which has already been said in full or which will show up in a longer context in the subsequent scene. Somehow, in spite of the character differences, it all relates and once again, what goes around ...
Tom Buderwitz' set design is simultaneously efficient and evocative, and set changes are carried out beautifully by the actors throughout the evening.
This is definitely a play for gay men, who appreciate better than anyone the superficiality of a touch and let go encounter. But lovers of all persuasions should experience it. On certain levels women and straight men can understand and relate to the feelings that come with hunting down Mr. or Ms. Right. It's demeaning, terrifying and scintillating all in the same breath.
5 out of 5 stars

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