When my friend asked me what we were going to see I could only splutter “er…gay men”. It is about far more than gay men, Bill Rosenfield’s play is a look at another time, another planet compared to attitudes now, but ultimately a tale about desire and finding yourself within your sexual identity.
We are welcomed by Robert (Jay Taylor), a British actor who is on tour in Boston and away from his lover back in London. He wants to have fun and this is the 1970s and Boston is the East Coast’s answer to San Francisco. He is also keen to seduce the young man, Alan, who works at the theatre he is performing at. Alan (Oliver Coopersmith) is clearly very naïve and not at all sure of Robert’s intentions but whatever happens tonight it will be remembered forever, by one of them at least.
The space, the work, the story is all about intimacy. We are all willing participants rather than voyeurs in Robert’s seduction, willing him on to succeed despite the clear imbalance of power. Robert is very sure of sex and his sexuality and Alan isn’t. All signs point to Alan being gay (mainly his love of Barbra Streisand) and his denials are treated with respect yet suspicion by Robert.
The production is unashamedly graphic too, not only in the brief glimpses of nudity but in the description of what goes on. It is wonderfully performed and I particularly enjoyed the humour within. Taylor’s Robert is never vain and smug; he has his insecurities and isn’t afraid to admit that. He was once like Alan, played with innocence and a toothy grin by Coopersmith. The reason this production works so well is because we were all like Alan once, and if you’re like me, aspire to be as sexy as Robert.
Don’t let the concept of this being a play about gay men put you off. Rosenfield has written a story all can relate to. It is beautifully directed inside the very small space and the design is very much a classy look at 1970s interiors. Rosenfield also treats the attitude to homosexuality in the 1970s with sensitivity, the fact Robert never visits his parents and the secrecy Robert and his partner have back home are not in the script to shock but to explain how hard it was, and for many, can still be.
46 Beacon closes tomorrow so be sure to catch one of the final two performances. Tickets and more details can be found here.
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