Triangle Arts and Entertainment – News and Reviews Theatre Dance Music Arts

Manbites Dog Theater Company’s “The Homosexuals” Is The Best Play of the Year (So Far)

FormalFront

Meet Evan (Ryan Brock), the central character in “The Homosexuals,” directed by Jeff Storer and playing now at Manbites Dog Theater Company. Evan is a fresh-out-of-the closet twenty year old kid who doesn’t know himself very well. Actually, that’s not quite right. See, Philip Dawkins’ cleverly constructed play first introduces Evan at the age of thirty and then moves backwards, showing glimpses of the relationships and friendships (aren’t they kind of the same thing?) that turn him into his current self.

The play’s first scene (of six) focuses on Evan’s relationship with Peter (Derrick Ivey), his fabulously flamboyant, theatre-obsessed partner whom he is about to break up with. The production then moves backward in two year increments, showing Evan’s relationships with British Mark (Thaddeus Edwards), sweet Michael (Jeffrey Moore), self-proclaimed “fag hag” Tam (Amber Wood), dark and angry Mark (Gregor McElvogue), and weight-loss enthusiast Collin (Chris Burner).

The story, from beginning to end, is beautifully written and perfectly structured. Almost every line is weighted with meaning, yet the show does not feel heavy. In fact, it moves along quite briskly, and serious issues, such as Peter’s testicular cancer and British Mark’s HIV positive status, are handled subtly. Subtlety is one of Dawkins’ strongest skills; realistic dialogue is yet another; and then there’s his ability to move deftly from comedy to sad poignancy. While this skill is brilliantly exhibited in several spots, it is particularly noticeable in the scene focused on Michael and Evan. Moore, as Michael, relates a comedic tale of his first attraction to another male and, just when the humor is at its crescendo, it fades to reveal a bitter recollection of Michael’s first shunning as a homosexual.

Storer’s intriguing staging choices serve as the perfect backdrop for Dawkins’ flawlessly written story. The director chooses to leave the actors onstage, even when they are not directly involved in the scene. They sit, watch, and occasionally laugh or smile, serving as a reflection of the audience and as a reminder of the sometimes silent but always prevalent role these characters play in Evan’s life.

The story, at is heart, is about Evan’s search—and everyone’s search—for identity and about the people and the series of relationships that play a part in constructing that identity. It’s also about the families we create and what it means to be a friend. Though Evan’s relationship with each of the characters changes and evolves over time, closeness and genuine love remain, so that at the end, the audience has witnessed not just the construction and birth of a person but the realization of a family.

Obviously, a production such as this relies on a cast with strong chemistry, and this cast has it in droves. Another thing it has in droves is talent. There is not a weak spot in the line-up. In fact, there is no weak spot in the production as a whole; everything from the gentle lighting to the choice of music during scene transitions is perfect. Triangle audiences are incredibly lucky to have this show, in its North Carolina premiere and in only its second-ever production, available for viewing. Prepare to be laugh, to be moved and to find the friends you wish you had.

Categorised in: A&E Theatre Reviews, Lead Story, Reviews

1 Response

  1. “The Homosexuals” Extended!
    Performances added for the hit new play at Manbites Dog
    Now playing through May 25
    at Manbites Dog Theater, 703 Foster Street, Durham

    Added Special Event: Meet the Playwright on Friday, March 24, in a post-show conversation with artistic director Jeff Storer

    (Durham, NC) The Homosexuals are here, they’re queer, and they’re sticking around. Due to audience demand and consistently sold-out performances, Manbites Dog Theater is extending this hit play through May 25.

    Critics have called The Homosexuals “the best play of the year” (Triangle Arts & Entertainment) and “maybe the very best I’ve seen in all [Manbites Dog’s] years” (The Five Points Star). IndyWeek gives the play four stars, writing that “[playwright Philip] Dawkins’ writing is muscular, and his ear for dialogue serves him and his characters well.” The News & Observer writes that the play’s success is “a tribute to director Jeff Storer’s deep understanding and the cast’s uniform excellence,” while The Five Points Star praises the “extraordinary ensemble acting by several of the Triangle’s most consistently fine actors.”

    In honor of the extension, playwright Philip Dawkins will be flying in from Chicago to see the play and participate in a post-show conversation following the performance on Friday, May 24. This special event is free to those who attend that evening’s performance.

    The Homosexuals is now playing through May 25, featuring actors Ryan Brock, Chris Burner, Thaddaeus Edwards, Derrick Ivey, Gregor McElvogue, Jeffrey Moore, and Amber Wood. Directed by Manbites Dog’s Artistic Director Jeff Storer.

    Tickets

    Tickets are $17 Friday-Sunday, $12 Wednesday/Thursday. Student tickets are $5 with ID, and Seniors (62+) and Military receive a $2 discount. Manbites Dog Season Vouchers are accepted for all shows. Thursday, May 2 is a special pay-what-you-can preview. (Door sales only, $5 minimum.)

    Order online at http://www.manbitesdogtheater.org or by calling 919.682.3343.

    Performances

    Further performances run through May 25 on the following schedule:
    
 – Wednesday, May 15 at 8:15pm

    – Thursday, May 16 at 8:15pm

    – Friday, May 17 at 8:15pm

    – Saturday, May 18 at 8:15pm
    – Friday, May 24 at 8:15pm

    – Saturday, May 25 at 8:15pm

    More Info

    Learn more about The Homosexuals online at http://www.manbitesdogtheater.org/thehomosexuals/.