As I noted in the column, Mart Crowley‘s landmark 1968 play The Boys in the Band is being revived by Transport Theater Group in an environmental production, as the band plays on.
The 26th Street loft where Boys is performed has been transformed into the lead character Michael’s sprawling apartment, which results in a sense that you’re really at a party, though some scenes are done so far away from you that they actually come off LESS intimate than usual.
The cast is generally good, though the director’s bent towards naturalism occasionally results in heavy pauses and ponderous pacing.
Going to the other extreme, there’s a jarring touch of artificiality in the guy who plays the best part, the self loathing Harold. By intoning his lines as if doing a postmodern impression of the original Harold, Leonard Frey, he comes off even more distanced from the part than I was from the bedroom scenes.
But it’s worth seeing! The writing still crackles and there’s enough relevance to today’s gay issues, and when the cast explodes into a festive group dance, the buoyancy is infectious.
The good times are short lived, of course. The production winds up going to a very dark place, and when Michael has a complete collapse, you can’t help but be shaken up by these boys–and glad Stonewall happened a short time after this was written.