Nouveau 47 Theatre at the Magnolia Lounge in Fair Park is building a reputation as a developer of interesting new plays. Their new works festival is coming up soon and they like to foster relationships with young writers and performers pouring heart, soul and fresh ideas onto the stage.
Their latest is the adult-themed comedy The A-Gays: Stillwater, Oklahoma, written and performed by Dallas theater newcomer John Michael Colgin, who goes by his first and middle names professionally. It's a one-man, one-act piece, unscripted, says John Michael, who counts monologists Mike Daisey and the late Spalding Gray as inspirations.
Speaking directly to the audience, John Michael begins with a tribute to Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers student who committed suicide in 2010 after his roommate, Dharun Ravi, tweeted and live-streamed over the internet a dorm-room sexual encounter between Clementi and another man. Clementi later killed himself by jumping off the George Washington Bridge. Ravi recently was found guilty of invasion of privacy and other charges connected to the incidents that led to Clementi's death. "Dharun, 10 years; Tyler, an eternity," says John Michael in the show.
The high-energy 80-minute monologue then tells John Michael's own coming-out saga in a series of vignettes that seesaw between high comedy and solemn drama. He even steps out of "character" to ask for the audience's indulgence. "Root for him," he says, referring to his younger self, the one who had trouble being openly gay on the conservative campus of Oklahoma State University. (His drama professor there, Matt Tomlanovich, directed this production. John Michael subsequently transferred to University of Texas at Dallas.)
Much of A-Gays is stuff you've probably heard before in plays about coming out and dealing with homophobia from family and friends. John Michael isn't yet Harvey Fierstein. His writing is disjointed at times. And though he can be bitchy-funny -- his best line is "Modesty is for ugly people" -- he hasn't yet found a unique voice for comedy.
He is immensely likable, however, and that's a leg up on many solo performers, including the now-debunked Daisey.
The A-Gays: Stillwater, Oklahoma contains explicit language and sexual situations. It continues at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through April 14 at Nouveau 47 Theatre, The Magnolia Lounge. All tickets are pay-what-you-can.
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