The Other Side of Silence (TOSOS), New York’s oldest LGBTQ theatre company, has delivered up an end-of-summer confection in its production of Doric Wilson’s 1980 play Forever After, paired with Danielle Frimer’s present-day one-act opener, A Marriage Is a Story We Tell and Keep Telling. The two plays, linked by their vibrant use of fantasy, provide an evening of raucous humor mixed with a liberal dose of the powers of love and hope.
In A Marriage Is a Story We Tell and Keep Telling, set in the present, we meet Em (Preston Fox) and Fi (Jesse Reid) on their wedding day. Em has locked himself in a broom closet; Fi is trying to convince Em into coming out or at least let him in. Em is concerned that what they are about to do is only buying into a hetronormative, patriarchal ritual, denying their inner selves. Fi addresses Em’s fears by creating an adventure story in which the two of them, improvising as they go along, journey in their imaginations to find that perfect place where they can be united as a couple on their own terms.
Forever After is set in the 1980s. Two gay men, Tom (Reid) and David (Fox), are settling in to celebrate their first anniversary together in their West Village apartment. Watching them from separate sides of the room are two drag queens who comment caustically on the couple’s expressions of love and devotion and the unbelievability of what they are seeing. The drag queens reveal themselves as Melpomene (Chris Andersson), the muse of tragedy, and Thalia (Pissi Myles), the muse of comedy. Melpomene insists that to be realistic; the play has to end with the lovers breaking up or killing themselves, since that is the fate of all gay characters in plays. Thalia refutes this, insisting a happy ending of life and fidelity is equally realistic. The two muses use all their powers trying to convince the actors to end the play the way they think it should end, battling each other with all the sass and vitriol only two drag sisters could provide.
Director Dennis Corsi displays a talent for different styles of comedy in guiding his talented cast through the two plays. Reid and Fox are warmly charming as the couple in the first play about to start a new life together. Their interplay, especially while creating their adventure fable, is a satisfying look at the role of storytelling in grounding a relationship. They turn that couple on their heads, so to speak, in the second play, where their skills with physical comedy bring to life the acting pair being put through the wringer by two battling goddesses. As for the feuding muses, Myles and Andersson are broad farceurs who wring every laugh from the script. Myles captures the essence of a good-time girl in her short, red-spangled dress, while Andersson turns in an over-the-top impression of the Wicked Witch of the West in an evening gown and towering hairdo. Together, they bring a hearty helping of divine bitchery to the evening’s delights.
Separately, Forever After and A Marriage Is a Story We Tell and Keep Telling are both gems of the playwright’s art. Together, they provide an entertaining evening that will linger in memory long after the performance ends. You owe it to yourself to make the trip to the Flea Theatre to see TOSOS’ brilliant production of these two plays. I highly recommend that you do.
Forever After and A Marriage Is a Story We Tell and Keep Telling are presented by The Other Side of Silence (TOSOS) at the Flea Theatre in Tribeca, Manhattan, through August 26th. For more information or to order tickets, go to redeyetickets.com/forever-after