Dan Fingerman’s The Austerity of Hope, now playing in the Fresh Fruit Festival, is like Boys in the Band meets Sex in the City: a group of twentysomething gay men seek love in the outer boroughs, wrestle with coming out, and eat a lot of brunch. This sitcommy but sweet tale unfolds during the heady days of Obama’s 2008 victory and the post-inauguration letdowns that followed—especially the long fight to legalize gay marriage.
Simon is a perennial playboy who falls for a married man; Braydon, an aspiring actor, dates a closeted TV star; Mike and Jonathan, longtime boyfriends, break up after realizing they disagree about whether to tie the knot—if they ever could. (Claire, the sole straight friend, listens patiently to her buddies’ woes. Eventually, she moves to Korea; what this says about straight people, I dunno.)
Fingerman’s efforts to align the personal and the political don’t always cohere: Surely marriage equality is about more than curing commitment-phobes. And do Obama-related disappointments really determine how we treat each other?
Still, the play’s optimism is endearing. “It’s 2009,” declares one character toward the end, “no one cares about your sex life, other than you.” And now it’s 2011, and Fingerman’s soul-searchers can officially get hitched—a real-life happy ending (for better or for worse).