Chris Bresky, Daryl Embry and Nick Lewis. Photo by Andrew Adolphus.
BOTTOM LINE: open heart, a new play by Joe Salvatore, gives voice to the often occurring, yet rarely discussed, phenomenon of open relationships amongst gay men.
Culled from hours of interviews that Salvatore recorded, and dramatized in the style of Anna Deavere Smith or Eve Ensler, we hear the stories of fifteen gay men as they explain, define, consider, and often defend their open relationships.
The impressively versatile five cast members perform various characters with diverse backgrounds. These range from an HIV-positive Latino couple to a gay escort and his transsexual boyfriend "Pony" to a couple living in Horse Cove, KY. Effortlessly, a hoodie is removed and glasses are put on, and Stephen Donovan instantly transforms from a young urban drug user to a middle-aged East Villager. Similar transformations in style and tone by Chris Bresky, Daryl Embry, Nick Lewis and Karl O'Brian Williams are equally stunning.
Video montages are projected behind the characters and between scenes that range in randomness from Gone with The Wind to soft core gay porn. While these video montages are an interesting way to differentiate and avoid the sort of staidness that works like this can achieve, they sometimes interrupt and distract instead of adding to the work, particularly when an actor is speaking.
Regardless of your feelings on monogamy this is a very well done and thought provoking piece. It is made all the more interesting as the discussion of granting legal rights to monogamous same-sex couples engages our nation. Salvatore and his cast deliver an unflinching, engaging, interesting, and often humorous work.
(open heart plays at The First Floor Theatre at La Mama, 74A East 4th Street between Bowery and 2nd Avenue, through August 29th. Remaining performances are Thursday 8/26 at 8pm, Saturday 8/27 at 7PM and Sunday 8/29 at noon. For more information visit www.openhearttheplay.com. Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door, and are available at FringeNYC.com, by calling 866.468.7619, or in person at FringeCENTRAL, located at 1 East 8th Street at 5th Avenue. There is NO LATE SEATING for Fringe NYC shows.)