in the unfamiliar
I've been working with Manny Igrejas on No Strings Attached, which he calls his "big gay play," for several months now -- first for the Left Out Festival at Stage Left Studios and now for an extended run (Wed-Sat through Aug. 16. Click here for tickets.) -- at the same theater.
It has been an interesting experience. The play is dark and rich and subtle and warm and depressing and uplifiting AND gay.
Boy, oh boy, is it gay.*
The last being something I am not. It has been argued -- sometimes successfully, I'm afraid -- that "rich," "warm," "subtle" and "uplifting" are also words that don't fit me like a tight V-neck t-shirt either. But theater is supposed to challange us ... as audience members and as practitioners of the breathing art.
What is it like to be in a long-term gay relationship? Diving into No Strings Attached, I had no idea. Frankly, I still have no idea.
But, because I believe relationships (troubled ones and well-constructed ones) are for the most part universals of the human condition without regard to their specific sexual preferences, I entered the script and found out I was correct in my basic assumptions. Mostly correct anyway.
I still have no idea about "gay relationships," as a broadly defined term. I do, however, know about the relationships in Manny's big, gay play. No surprise here, but they are painful, just like straight relationships. They ask too much of us and they give much more than they take from us. They lift us up and they hold us down.
There are aspects of the relationships in No Strings Attached that I absolutely disagree with, personally. A good play gives us that.
A very good play gives those most disagreeable aspects a certain validity. This gives us something to chew on. In this regard alone, No Strings Attached qualifies as a very good play.
No Strings Attached runs 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, through Aug. 16 at Stage Left Studios, 214 W. 30th Street, NYC, 6th floor (between 7th and 8th avenues). It runs 90 minutes without intermission. Tickets are $18 and can be reserved here.
*QUICK SYNOPSIS: No Strings Attached is the story of two men, Monty and Luis, in a 10-year relationship who are trying to negotiate their future together in this new America where two men in a 10-year relationship have the legal right to get married. This is complicated enough (Imagine, straight people, that your entire relationship experience never once seriously entertained the idea of a legally binding life-time commitment like marraige ... and then, suddenly, it was an option that dropped into your bedroom.) but when you create a triangle by adding Stefan, a hot young porn star, you have No Strings Attached. The stress is the story. And, it is funny to boot.