Being a gay couple for 27 years is something to be proud of; it can also evoke a need for change. In John Reoli's clunky, sweet-natured One Seat in the Shade, directed by Bruce Ornstein, one couple learns the hard way what's best for them.
Reoli lays on the exposition thickly and clumsily. Scott (Dan Lane Williams) believes his longtime partner, Randall (Cash Tilton), is carrying on with a 22-year-old. They go to Spain to rekindle things, but their tension doesn't recede.
There's a knock on their hotel room door and in walks Jeff (Austin Mitchell), a 22-year-old American with a sob story about being taken to Spain by his parents as a college-graduation gift and abandoned due to his sexuality. Maybe he's a hustler, maybe not — all that matters is that Scott ends up in bed with him. Ornstein makes an awful mistake in letting this sex scene go too far. Whereas kissing, groping, and the like would have communicated all we need to know, the simulation of anal intercourse is gratuitous and dumb.
There's also a real disparity in the acting chops between Tilton — who resembles the Duke of Windsor, sounds like James Stewart, and has godlike comic timing — and Williams, who has trouble finding his footing. This is especially apparent in Act 2, when Jeff's older boyfriend Bradley (Reoli, doing double duty) arrives, and everyone learns a lesson. The one that Scott and Randall learn, of course, is key: Sitting in the sunlight with the one you love is better than having one seat in the shade.
Presented by Words, Words, Words Productions as part of the New York International Fringe Festival
at the SoHo Playhouse, 15 Vandam St., NYC.
Aug. 11-23. Remaining performances: Sun., Aug. 17, 9 p.m.; Mon., Aug. 18, 9:30 p.m.; Wed., Aug. 20, 5:15 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 23, 2 p.m.
(212) 279-4488 or (866) 468-7619 or www.fringenyc.org.