Presented by SourceWorks Theatre at The Duplex Cabaret Theatre, 61 Christopher St., NYC, July 16-Aug. 31.
Earnest sentiment, which occupied a diminishing place on our cultural diet before Sept. 11, had already been revived when "Homosexual Acts" opened at The Duplex this summer. In an age of unyielding cynicism, the seven short pieces comprising the evening possessed an honest and invigorating, celebratory feel. As we ponder how life—and gay life—may change in the times ahead, "Homosexual Acts," which was directed by Mark Cannistraro, seems entirely reassuring.
On the surface, the titles might sound trite, unimportant, unexceptional: "I Should Have Said No" by Doug Cooney; "Annunciation" by Carl Morse; "The Doris Day Collection" by Robert Shaffron; "Anything For You" by Cathy Celesia; "The Virtual Closet" by James Edwin Parker; "The Virgin Tango" by Tom W. Kelly; and "It's Our Town, Too" by Susan Miller. Yet, in truth, all seven plays possessed a distinctly upbeat, almost utopian quality. From the depiction of a community without discrimination (Miller's play) to the invincible qualities of newfound love (Kelly's play), the works here honored not just gay life, but our common humanity, sexual orientation be damned.
Look even deeper, in fact, and the universal truths found in these plays remain true. The tale of two men meeting anonymously in an AOL chat room (Parker's play) will doubtless ring as relevant tomorrow as today. A kitschy paean to Doris Day (Shaffron's play) will, if anything, ring ever more true as we revisit our formerly innocent past.
Cannistraro staged his suite of plays with an artful simplicity befitting the diminutive stage of The Duplex, even making one moment with all eight actors on stage seem composed and visually uncomplicated. Suzanna Bowling, Jessica Faller, Suzanne Gilad, Stephen Hope, Nathan Johnson, Gregg Moore, A.J. Triano, and Justin Wilson worked in a brisk, ensemble-like fashion—not bad for a band performing but once a week. Perhaps it reflects the strength and diversity of the pieces chosen for this evening. Perhaps it salutes the solid dramatists gracing our times.