The Gay '50s

Melodrama has become a bad word, though it remains the dominant genre of our dreams — well, at least mine are filled with unjust accusations, fugitive escapes, and pathetic pleas for last-minute rescue. Director Ed Chemaly's adaptation of Eugene Walter's 1908 potboiler The Easiest Way (Metropolitan Playhouse) maintains the overheated suspense of the original, while transforming the characters into gay men living in the McCarthy era. Laurie (Duane Noch) is an ambitious New York chorus boy struggling to remain faithful to his long-distance boyfriend, John (Coleman Zeigen), while fending off the financial seductions of smitten Will (David L. Carson). Beaten down by his poverty, Laurie eventually succumbs to being "kept," only to have his real love strike it rich in California. Despite the homo twist, Chemaly's revisions run only skin-deep: it's still basically

a soap opera with a message. But the cast, particularly the wonderful Noch, infuses the cautionary tale with desperate emotional life.

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