Thursday, August 12, 2004

Fringe Day 5, Part 4 - August 10, 2004, 10:00pm

Patrick and James: A Love Story
The Artsy Guy, Inc.
Interact Center for Visual and Performing Arts

I was prepared to like this show since I first heard about it.

I was even prepared to gloss over whatever flaws it had because I so wanted to just enjoy and then recommend a romantic tale for gay men.

Thankfully, I don't have to gloss over much at all. This production was far more than I ever expected to run across at the Fringe. I was even beginning to think I was the only one who wanted to write plays like this. I'm glad to have found a few kindred spirits in the folks at The Artsy Guy who mounted this show.

The title of my mini-review got booted, probably because it had a few too many quotation marks in it. I was trying to quote one of my favorite lines, from a female character complaining about her boyfriend's tendency to steal the covers in bed...

He's 5'4" and weighs less than most dogs but...

The script is full of clever lines - and the best kind of clever lines, because they're in keeping with the characters, not one-liners thrown in by an author just looking for laughs.

The characters aren't perfect, and the actors aren't afraid to show themselves in a less than flattering light, which is refreshing. Don't get me wrong. These aren't unpleasant people. Just people like the rest of us, who have their own fears of rejection and abandonment and commitment - fears which cause them to act in ways that could undo all the good their relationships have brought them.

Some might accuse this play of being too talky. But when it's smart talk, I don't mind. The characters don't hide behind cliches. They put themselves out there, emotionally naked, taking some of the scariest but most worthwhile gambles one can take - the gambles that maybe this time, maybe this person, maybe it might work.

The combination of humor and emotional honesty and vulnerability in this play was quite delightful. Before you know it, you end up rooting for the characters and their chance at happiness.

It's not a perfect play (but what play is - certainly not mine). Sometimes the exposition can be a little too bald. And the continual offstage existence of the sister's significant other is a bit of a stretch. This may, however, have been not just an economic/production consideration (one more actor), but a deliberate comment on gays as supporting characters in most mainstream entertainment ("It's all right to imply that the gays have a social life, as long as we don't have to watch it right in front of us.") Me, I'd argue for letting the person who actually has a heterosexual partner to have that person onstage, too, get a straight man into the mix. After all, contrary to some folks' opinions, I don't believe that straight men are the enemy.

But those are minor reservations. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the wit, and yes, the sentimentality of this production. Unlike cheap sentiment, this show's sentiment is honest and well-earned. My highest hope, whenever I go to a new gay show, is to somehow see myself reflected on stage. With this show, I did. I think many people, gay or straight, will see themselves, too. I highly recommend the love story of Patrick and James.

Catch one of this show's two remaining performances - Friday and Sunday. Visit their Fringe page and add them to your schedule.

It's very likely you'll see me there. Now that I know the story going in, I can just relax in the company of old friends. Not many shows at the Fringe warrant repeat viewing. We all have our preferences, but for me, this is one of those shows.

(For more of my writing - plays, past blog entries and more - visit

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