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Befriending Beau

Writer/director David Gaard's Befriending Beau is meant to be a heartfelt story exploring teenage drug addiction and sexual confusion; however, the production never quite delivers on its emotional promise.

As the play opens, Beau (Paul Sacci) is seen shooting up heroin. The action is done with a meticulous attention to detail that may make some viewers uncomfortable. Onstage male nudity is also employed, although it is not overly gratuitous and actually serves a dramatic purpose.

The play is primarily the story of Tash (Adam S. Barta), a teenager coming to grips with his sexuality. He's slept with both men and women, but is in love with his straight best friend, Beau. The latter character is a teenage junkie trying to write a novel, but only getting as far as the first paragraph. Both are potentially interesting characters that are not brought to life by the actors who play them.

Sacci speaks in a monotone that does nothing to illuminate the long, philosophical speeches he's given. Barta fares better, endowing his role with a nervous eagerness that is often endearing. Unfortunately, he falls into an annoying vocal pattern that limits his emotional range. In addition, both actors tend to look down a lot and fail to connect the lines they speak to more than a superficial display of character.

At the performance I attended, a slew of technical snafus contributed to the amateurish quality of the performance. Gaard seems to have difficulty creating smooth transitions, often relying on recorded voice-overs and phone rings to propel the action forward. To his credit, however, aspects of the writing itself seem to contain some dramatically rich material that could be brought to the fore with better actors and stronger direction.

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