Kirk Wood Bromley’s three short plays, ostensibly about being queer and conservative, actually pursue greater truths: What does free feel like? Is freedom the ultimate thing to strive for?
Gillian Chadsey as the shrill, icy titular character in What Are You Thinking, Mary Cheney? offers no nuance in tightly wound monologues, attempted adages for a demented thought-of-the-day calendar. Behind her, a framed picture of daddy Dick and Mary frightens: It’s a sad AP photo instead of a family portrait, blown up far too large for the frame, Dick bursting out from its walls, menacingly. An admonishing ending suggests that everything we think we know about Mary projects our own biases—but Bromley should have given her a reality to voice rather than straw men to ignite.
Civilization and Its Disco Tents deals in linguistic calisthenics. Gay-conversion therapist Robert Laine eagerly offers role play (in wig and shabby dress) as a curative for patient John McConnel; the two broadly bleat florid and eccentric lines past each other—”I’m laughing on the walls of his restraining gusto”; “Dunketh not the Cookie Cock of Satan into the Milk of Man”—until something strange happens: The two begin talking to each other. McConnel develops sensitivity and sensuality, particularly in a poignant and thrilling moment of sharing tales of distanced jock-worship with Laine.
In the egregiously absurd The Welcome Mask, inspired blocking and choreography keep things lively, but the play’s just an excuse to do some expansive Python-esque riffing and show off costume designer Karen Flood’s genital headgear creations.