By Kristian O’Hare
Directed by Allison Shoemaker
Produced by The Ruckus
At The Side Project Theatre
Silly, unfunny farce fails to deliver
The Ruckus theatre is trying the ‘off-night’ (Sunday thru Wednesday) format with a cheap ticket price ($10) to lure theatre patrons to their world premiere farce – The Gay American. Unfortunately, Kristian O’Hare’s play is a dud. The Gay American is an uneven hybrid that tries to be a farce and a docudrama but only delivers a series of short scenes that only succeeds as an offensive, foul-mouthed insult to gay men.
This show isn’t remotely funny and the packed house of family and friends of The Ruckus found little to laugh at. The show tries to parody former New Jersey governor James McGreevey (Neal Starbird) and former congressman Mark Foley (Walter Brody). Both were gay men whose playing with teenage boys led to their downfall. The show is filled some of the most offensive references to gay sex that garners cheap laughs. The explicit descriptions of gay sex was a tastelessly attempt at banal humor.
Trying to mix docudrama with farce and/or black humor is a tricky business that necessitates sophisticated writing with skilled action with a clear focus. None of these elements are present here. There is no one to cheer for in this sketch-like hybrid. We quickly loathe James McGreevey and the pedophile Mark Foley. Dina McGreevey (Julie Cowden) is a soar-faced woman who hates her husband and her baby. Morag McGreevey (Stevie Chaddock) is the rebellious teen who enjoys cutting herself. The robot-like aid, Page (Aaron Dean) is loyal to the governor buy he pines for Morag. Patty (Elise Mayfield) is the loud mouth friend of Dina who screams her way through her scenes much to our dissatisfaction. Perhaps the only character to somewhat win us over is the gay aid/waiter Philly Buster (the talented Freddie Donovan). Then again, he is a cliched gay teen who is a sex slave, waiter, hustler, and tap dancer. Ha?
This 2 hour farce want-to-be has neither manic pace nor the physical humor nor the sharp-edged absurdest tone or a deus ex machina twist of the plot to fuel the humor. The movement back and forth from parody to docudrama fell shallow. Better to pick an extreme comic style throughout than to slow the pace with several thoughtless dramatic speeches and pontifications. The over use of raw descriptions of gay sex doomed the show for me. Gay men will be offended by this show. The show plays like a series of underdeveloped sketches. This shows needs to be rethought.
At The Side Project Theatre, 1439 W. Jarvis, Chicago, IL, call 773-769-7257, Monday May 17, Tuesday May 18, Wednesday May 19, Sunday May 23, Monday May 24, Tuesday May 25, Wednesday May 26 – all performances at 7:30 pm, running time is 2 hours with intermission.