Reviewed by Neal Weaver
Two Roads Theatre
Through May 22
Gary (playwright Terry Ray) and Brad (Kevin Scott Allen) are sort of a gay odd couple. Gary is a 28-year-old gay virgin, nerdy and prim, who thinks his homosexuality is a deep dark secret, though everyone at his school refers to him as gay Gary. He’s been nursing a secret passion for Brad since junior high school. Brad is a moderately compulsive gay sex addict, who left his home in Chillicothe, Ohio to pursue sex and work as a waiter in Manhattan.
In 1983, Brad returns for the occasion of their tenth high school reunion, and Gary invites the out-of-towner to share his motel room. Things get off to a rocky start, as Gary’s too uptight and fearful even to take a drink of vodka, or to admit that he’s gay: he pretends to be married. Brad is more savvy, and knows from the start that they’re going to share more than a bed. After a number of fits and starts, their relations are consummated, and a long and strange relationship is launched.
Gary is helplessly in love with Brad, but Brad is commitment phobic, and seems to try his best to torpedo their relations. He disappears for the next ten years — until the 20th class reunion in 1993. Then he turns up once again in Gary’s motel room. Gary’s furious at being treated so cavalierly, but he can’t resist Brad’s charms — and the pattern of their involvement is established. They meet up once every ten years in that same motel room.
It strains credibility to think that such tenuous relations could be sustained for forty years, but that’s what happens here. The two can neither stay together nor stay apart. Their 40-year one-night stand provides Ray with the opportunity to observe the changes that have occurred in gay life since 1983, from AIDS to gay marriage. And he has a knack for wry, rueful, funny and perceptive dialogue.
Ray and Allen are a terrific team, with solid rapport and commitment to the material, and they meticulously register the shifts in their volatile but essentially changeless relations, as Gary learns from Brad to be more daring, while Brad’s recklessness is tempered by Gary’s solidity. Steven Rosenbaum directs with a discreet hand, plotting the twists and turns of the plot so deftly they seem organic. Designer Tom Early created the handsome motel room set.
Two Roads Theatre, 4348 Tujunga Blvd., Studio City. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m., Sun., 7 p.m., thru May 22. www.electricitytheplay.com or www.brownpapertickets.com. Running time: One hour and 35 minutes with no intermission.