Playwright: Jordan Seavey
At: Pride Films and Plays at the Pride Arts Broadway, 4137 N. Broadway. Tickets: $25-$30; PrideFilmsAndPlays.com; 773-857-0222. Runs through: Sept. 30
A now-somewhat shopworn literary device for introducing dramatic narrative is to propose a montage of ambiguous remarks whose significance would, presumably, be later revealed.
Playwright Jordon Seavey devotes a full three-quarters of his play to this text-in-a-blender approach, even as his protracted preamble name-checks a plethora of 2006-11 New York City trail-markersdating apps, wine bars, fizzy bath products, the changing profile of Williamsburgconferring names on peripheral personnel, while reducing its protagonists to collective stereotypes.
Our romantic fable begins in a toiletries shop, where a character identified only as "The Writer" can't decide what he wants to buy. When the salesclerk asks the occasion, we are plunged into a mosaic flashback of Writer and the also generically designated "The Academic," who meet, have sex, squabble, chat about careers ( Academic's occupation is media studies, Writer's is gay fiction ) and debate important issues of the day, along with varieties of recreational drugs. ( Academic favors monogamy and cocaine, Writer champions promiscuity and poppers. ) Contributing requisite temptation is paragon best-buddy Dan.
"You're no Larry Kramer!" Academic reminds Writer during one of their quarrels. Neither is Seavey, nor does his condemnation of Mart Crowley's Boys in the Band excuse his own appeals to romantic sentimentality. Most counterproductive, though, is Seavey's failure to heed the wisdom of Tony Kushneroversight leading him to disregard the futility of compressing a portrait of social history into a universe occupied by a single couple and recounted non-chronologically over a mere 100 minutes. Some stories need a big screen to be told properly.
This leaves director Derek Van Barham and the troupe assembled for this Pride Films and Plays production to secure our sympathiesor, at least, our tolerancefor the progress of two implausibly naive individuals exhibiting no explanation for their mutual attraction except to generate Platonic dialogues and Erotic cuddles. As played by Nelson Rodriguez, however, the repressed Academic is endowed with depths of understated introspection, his reserve contrasting with Niko Kourtis' provocative portrayal of the volatile ( and often annoyingly self-righteous ) young Writer. Likewise fabricating personalities beyond what information Seavey's script provides them are Jordan Dell Harris and Jessica Vann as what we can only assume are the "everyone in America" mentioned in the title.