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"Straight" at the Acorn on West 42nd St. in NYC


beethoven
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I just got a flyer for this new play, which runs from Feb 9 to May 8. I can't find it on any off-Broadway review site, so it must be in previews. The flyer says, "Ben likes beer, sports, and Emily. And Chris." The play has a web site, StraightThePlay.com This doesn't make it a good play, but there aren't that many gay-themed plays in mainstream theaters in New York, though there are certainly some.

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  • 2 weeks later...

A delightfully entertaining play. We all agreed we liked it as we exited the Acorn theater. A friend said "it's no Tennessee Williams but it was good." A three character romp into the dilemmas and fears of facing one's sexuality. The play opens with Ben (Jack Epstein) on the couch with Chris ( Thomas E. Sullivan) who have just hooked up (presumably on Grinder). Jake is a successful business man aged 25. Chris is not yet 20. Jake is a little shy about engaging in gay sex with his new pal but eventually they make out and jack each other off (no, not on stage!). However, Jake has a little secret that he is reluctant to reveal. He has been in a relationship with a woman for 5 years. Emily is a cancer research scientist on the threshold of making a big cancer discovery. She and Jake live apart but she is anxious to move the relationship to the next level. As the play unfolds, Jake and Chris continue to hook up and one morning Emily arrives at the apartment to find Jack and Chris asleep on the couch in their briefs. (Why this character doesn't have a bedroom still slightly puzzles me). Emily is oblivious to the discovery and actually buys into the "we got drunk and fell asleep" excuse. I won't spoil the remainder of the play for you but I was upset by the ending. The cast is very good and the play runs a brisk 90 minutes without intermission. It's well-written and has some good comedic lines, the story line sticks to the theme of acknowledging your sexuality. And, yes, guys, Mr. Epstein and Mr. Sullivan run around in their briefs and are some times shirtless. Mr. Sullivan has a cute twink-ish look and Mr. Epstein is good-looking. However, crotch-wise, that theater was so friggin' cold it's amazing they weren't wearing thermals!

 

ED

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Review: ‘Straight’ Glides Between Sexual Assumptions

 

By ANDY WEBSTERMARCH 2, 2016

 

Photo

http://static01.nyt.com/images/2016/03/03/arts/03STRAIGHT/03STRAIGHT-blog427.jpg

Thomas E. Sullivan, left, and Jake Epstein in “Straight.”CreditMatthew Murphy

  • In the bisexual romantic triangle “Straight,” now at the Acorn Theater, Charlie Corcoran’s set melds perfectly with Grant Yeager’s lighting: A tidy apartment is illuminated at times with cool pastel hues, in transitions punctuated by Will Van Dyke’s tidy synthesized musical accents. And all those elements converge seamlessly with this play — by Scott Elmegreen and Drew Fornarola, and directed with polished finesse by Andy Sandberg — that is supple and, yes, tidy.
     
    Which is not to say it ends with a snappy resolution, only that it is a smart, bracing production brimming with clever wisecracks, some thought-provoking observations on sexual identity and one very promising newcomer.
     
    Ben (Jake Epstein) is a 26-year-old investment banker in Boston with a longtime girlfriend, Emily (Jenna Gavigan), a Ph.D. candidate in genetics and bioinformatics. But he canoodles on the side with Chris (Thomas E. Sullivan), a randy, somewhat boozy college student who gently needles Ben about his closeted status. Needless to say, Ben and Chris’s liaisons can’t stay under wraps forever.
     
    Emily’s research allows Mr. Elmegreen and Mr. Fornarola to contrast such notions as biological determinism and sexual autonomy, while Ben’s ambivalence in choosing between Chris and Emily offers a platform for questioning assumptions about stereotypes. (“Not every gay guy, like, burps glitter,” says Chris, who, like Ben, enjoys a beer and watching football.)
     
    But “Straight,” which offers a last-minute plot twist, is by no means a balanced dialectic comparing homosexual and heterosexual love. In Ben and Chris’s exchanges, there is raunchy humor, boyish camaraderie and lust. As for Ben and Emily, the script only lightly sketches their shared history. Mostly, there are her pleas for Ben to move in, attend their friends’ wedding and pursue bourgeois contentment together. Despite Ms. Gavigan’s commendable efforts at instilling Emily with warmth and a libido, the script largely, and indefensibly, deprives her of both.
     
    Mr. Epstein (who played Gerry Goffin in “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical”) ably embodies a vaguely passive-aggressive, noncommittal male archetype. But the standout is Mr. Sullivan, a recent New York University graduate. Portraying a progressively needy slacker, he delivers the play’s ribald asides with laserlike timing. And that plot twist? On its surface it suggests a reversal; in truth it affirms all that has preceded it.

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If they are doing a good business, they will extend. It often depends on whether or not they have already booked a play into that theater after May 9th, or if the actors have signed other commitments, and need to rehearse another play or to perform elsewhere after May 9th. You might try calling the box office in a few weeks.

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I saw "Straight" last night, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I can see why Edjames was "upset" at the ending, and why some may find the ending frustrating. I don't mean to be presumptuous, but I think life is often like that (The ending of "Blackbird" was puzzling to me; do people behave like that? And I still can't find out what that title means.)

"Straight" is being marketed heavily; it seems that every bus shelter and flat surface in New York has a poster for the play. I hope it can be extended, so that sf westcoaster can see it when he's here in May. It deserves to have a long run!

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I had an interesting comment from a masseur today. He said that three of his friends hated the ending of this play, and would not recommend it. My masseur said that he would not see the play, although I told him I liked both the play and the ending, because the director, Andy Sandberg, "knows nothing of the gay experience or the gay point of view." I don't know anything about Mr Sandberg, so I had nothing to say about that. But the ending of the play seems to be controversial, disappointing many, so I thought I'd post this.

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Saw the play this weekend. I can see why some people didn't like the ending - a character makes a big decision that could set the future course of his life. Will he be happy with the choice, it is fair to all involved, will it endure? These are questions one is left with. The play was so close to my actual life it was like deja vu. Obviously I liked it.

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