Directed by David Zak & Derek Van Barham
Produced by Pride Films & Plays
At Rivendall Theatre, Chicago
Intriguing collage of short scenes put a face(s) on 70 years of gay history in America.
Prolific playwright Terrence McNally sure has a thumb on the pulse of gay men in America as no one else captures their essence like he can. His honest presentation of the fabric of gay life including all the foibles, eccentricities, and fears are effectively presented in his 2006 drama, Some Men. In its Chicago premiere under the direction of David Zak and Derek Van Barham, Some Men unfolds in a series of vignettes scattered throughout the last 70 years of gay history in America.
The work starts and ends with a gay marriage but this often funny and always heartfelt work moves seamlessly from the 1969 Stonewall riots to St. Vincent’s hospital at the height of the AIDS Crisis to a beach in the Hamptons in 1920 when a rich gay Jewish man falls for his Irish chauffeur. The Hamptons are revisited years later by a gay man and his gay son ans their lovers only to meet a gay couple with a baby.
Many aspects of gay life are explored including a scene in an AOL chat room, another in a bathhouse. There is a hustler/trick nude scene as well as a funeral scene that finds a soldier attending to honor his fallen lover. We see a gay piano bar housing a bunch of gays too afraid to join the Stonewall march despite being urged on by a drag queen. We meet two elderly men sweetly living in a long term relationship that is questioned by two college aged gay men who fail to understand the past gay challenges. We also meet a black gay singer in 1932 Harlem who sings a song written for her my an unnamed composer (Lorenz Hart).
The key moments, turning points and advances of gay life are effectively presented by the cast of ten actors. Robert Ayres, David Besky, Ben Burke, Sam Button-Harrison, Tom Chiola, Edward Fraim, Jude Hansen, Nelson Rodriguez, Patrick Rybarczyk and Jermy Sonkin each had their time to shine in this fast paced and most engaging drama. It takes a writer like McNally and directors like Zak and Van Barham to make a series of scenes work to produce a glimpse into the history of gay life in America. We empathize, we understand, and we relate to their struggles, fears and apprehensions. This play can help young closeted gay men decide when and if to come out as it vividly dramatizes the nature of being gay today. As a work of theatre, Some Men is funny, honest and poignant and entertaining. It is well acted by a dedicated cast.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: August 16, 2014
For more info checkout the Some Men page at theatreinchicago.com
At Rivendell Theatre, 5779 N. Ridge, Chicago, IL, call 773-250-3112, www.pridefilmsandplays.com, tickets $25-$30, Thursday they Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 6 pm on August 24 and 4 pm on August 31 and Sept. 7. special Wed, Sept 10 at 7:30pm performance, running time is 2 hours, 20 minutes with intermission, through Sept.13, 2014