Bitches' brew

Fort Worth Theatre's revival of Boys in the Band still offers a much-needed slap

Also at the shindig are Michael's ex-lover Donald (Brian Keith Rhodes), who seems to be the wisest and healthiest of all of them; flaming queen Emory (Lon D. Barrera) and his equally flammable pal Bernard (Keith Smith), who is constantly goaded by Emory with offensive remarks about his black skin; and a new couple, promiscuous Larry (Lou Taylor) and faithful Hank (Jack Droitcourt), who has just left his wife. An evening's worth of dish is contaminated by the arrival of Alan (Alan McStravick), Michael's uptight, probably heterosexual, and very homophobic ex-college roommate, who arrives at the place in emotional tatters.

The centerpiece to the cruel, Albee-esque fun and games in The Boys in the Band is called "Affairs of the Heart," in which Michael pressures everyone to phone the one person they've ever really loved and tell him. It's ostensibly to punish hetero Alan and force him to make a revelation about his past, but the gay partygoers here find themselves drawn into the days before amyl nitrate, bath houses, and bars to young men who broke their hearts. People often focus on the mean-spirited, self-hating bitchery in Crowley's script, but these tenderly expressed memories are his real achievement. They humanize the hateful Alan's original assessment of them as "freaks." They cut directly to the soul of gay love, and, finally, love itself. Social acceptance wouldn't ensure that these romances would've lasted forever, but they would lend the participants a measure of self-respect. That would be a big start.

(Top row, from left) Jack Droitcourt, Lou Taylor, Todd Camp, Brian Keith Rhodes, Juan Alfaro and (bottom row, from left) Lon D. Barrera, Keith Smith, and Gary Payne are the boys in the band in Mart Crowley's landmark play.
(Top row, from left) Jack Droitcourt, Lou Taylor, Todd Camp, Brian Keith Rhodes, Juan Alfaro and (bottom row, from left) Lon D. Barrera, Keith Smith, and Gary Payne are the boys in the band in Mart Crowley's landmark play.

Sentiment aside, I think Michael deserves to be a poster boy for gay marital rights, if only to remind us of the potential pitfalls of that institution. Given the opportunity to wed, he would now be free to confuse a piece of paper for emotional commitment and security. Those husbands choosing not to tolerate his viperish tongue and whiny immaturity would have to go through the court system before they could make a clean break. Michael's serial nuptials would give new meaning to that old appellation "the gay divorcée" -- the alimony payments would eventually exceed his monthly liquor bill. He would, in short, be a lot like some heterosexuals you may know.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
All
 
My Voice Nation Help
0 comments
 
Loading...