Three plays at Gay Fest in Philadelphia

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Ascencion Party Fire Island guys in 2013

Quince Productions presented the Third Annual Gay Fest from August 6-24 in Philadelphia. The venues included the Second Stage and the Playground at the Adrienne at 2030 Sansom Street and Plays and Players Theater, 1714 Delancey Street. There were many events, with a fourth play, readings, and a gala event. The three plays reviewed here were seen over a two-day period in August.

Scene from "The Homosexuals."

Scene from “The Homosexuals.”

“The Homosexuals,” by Philip Dawkins, directed by Sarah J. Gafgen, was at the Plays and Players Theater on 1714 Delancey Street. Zachary Chiero was Evan, new to New York City, who was invited to a party the very same day he arrived, where he would meet a circle of friends with which he would share ten years of his life. Told in reverse order, we are thrown into 2010, and each successive scene focuses on pivotal moments going back to 2000.

A story of how a cute, young man found his way to a new life, where he explored the meaning of living and growing as a gay man in a place where he actually could do so, since he could not in his home town. Importantly, Evan slept with just about every man he met at that party over the next decade, except for the overweight, unattractive man who first invited him to the party. It was an interesting and very disturbing play.

Scene with Elaine and Will in New Century."

Scene with Elaine and Will in New Century.”

“The New Century” was next seen at the Second Stage at the Adrienne at 2030 Sansom Street, a renovated theatrical complex. The play, by veteran playwright Paul Rudnick, dealt with Rudnick’s usual themes of the outsider as tragic, sometimes comic, but always a strong character to be reckoned with. Stereotypes are explored and debunked, tragedy turns into comedy, and then often into transcendence.

The cast of "New Century."

The cast of “New Century.”

We meet Helene, played by Elaine Fydrych, a Long Island Jewish matron, who is about to address a room full of PFLAG parents, gleefully indulging in trumping all other parents of gay and lesbian children with tales of her three gay, trans, and lesbian children, all more outrageous than the previous one. Mr. Charles, wonderfully realized by R. Eric Thomas, hosts the flamboyant late-night cable TV access show, “Too Gay.” By turns witty, warm, monumentally tragic, and finally triumphant, Mr. Charles is one of Rudnick’s finest characters. We meet Barbara Ellen, played by Peggy Smith, who we first laugh at, then cry along with as we learn her story. Will Connell played Mr. Charles’ assistant, Shane, as well as Helene’s slave son, the doctor. Layne Marie Williams was Joann, a receptionist who wanted Mr. Charles to use his magical gay powers to turn her baby gay and fabulous, instead of straight and drab. Rich Rubin directed.

Rich Rubin, the producing artistic director of the festival, also directed “Someone Brought Me,” by Daniel Talbott, which played at the Second Stage. A play with three characters, it mostly is a two character drama (the wealthy man played by Calvin Atkinson and the poverty-stricken man by Ben Storey) set in a world post-apocalypse, where the few wealthy exercise their absolute power (monetary and sexual) over the masses of struggling and starving humanity.

The fourth Annual Gay Fest in 2014 promises to be a GLBT feast for the theatergoing public in Philadelphia. For more information on this year’s festival, visit http://www.quinceproductions.com/gayfest.html

Quince Productions presented the Third Annual Gay Fest from August 6-24 in Philadelphia. The venues included the Second Stage and the Playground at the Adrienne at 2030 Sansom Street and Plays and Players Theater, 1714 Delancey Street. There were many events, with a fourth play, readings, and a gala event. The three plays reviewed here were seen over a two-day period in August.