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Reviews

PARTY

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Set "In the Living Room of Kevin's Apartment in San Diego," David Dillon's 1992 celebration of gay life is selling out every weekend at Hillcrest's Quentin Crisp Theatre. The play is much more than a 90-minute-plus striptease. It is an inside sendup of that gay obsession with musical theatre (from Ethel to Liza), with many clever showbiz and film references sprinkled along the yellow brick road to stark naked. The audience, composed mainly of men, has a grand, rip-roaring time. As someone on the bright side of the footlights declares, "It's like The Brady Bunch on Fire Island." Before all the actors wind up on the bearskin rug, however, there are surprisingly tender moments, such as the recently dumped Kevin's "spoon" speech, of especial poignancy to anyone suddenly sleeping alone again.

Kevin (Chad Curtis) is sweet and gentle. Ray (Dillon) is a fussy parish priest, a musical comedy fanatic; to see him blanch over young and innocent Andy's (Derrol Murphy) question, "Barbra who?" is a showstopper. Ray launches into a remarkable, rapid-fire speech about first names being sufficient when it comes to musical theatre goddesses. Dillon gets laughs with a mere roll of his expressive eyes, and Murphy elicits guffaws with his precious wide-eyed innocence. Credit is due director Nic Arnzen, who allows the pace to slow for such moments.

Through this month's bitchy "Fact/Fiction, Fantasy/Flip" game played at Kevin's party, the characters are revealed. There's Brian (Charles Hampton), a dancer; Peter (Robert Christian Tyler), Kevin's appealing new roommate, and Philip (Kevin Reed), a handsome hunk who's sweet on Brian. Robert Nanninga plays James, a taciturn, bearded, heart-of-gold leather man with numerous tattoos and piercings. Above all are Dillon's lightning-jab one-liners, his life- and love-affirming character types, and his sparkling way with words. If not for these and a grand ensemble, Party would be just another show with nudity as the draw.

Scenic designer Arnzen dresses the playing area with Ikea slickness. As it must, Patrick Smith's music design supports the action.

"Party," presented by and at the Quentin Crisp Theatre, 3704 6th Ave., San Diego. Thurs.-Fri. 8 p.m., Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 3 & 8 p.m. May 24-June 30. $15-20. (619) 688-9210.

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