by John K. Adams
Imagine you could only see or speak to the love of your life briefly, every 10 years, in a hometown hotel room. The pain of that loved one’s absence would be incomprehensible. Who would do that?
Playwright Terry Ray’s Electricity (on extended run) imagines that tortuous scenario spanning four decades for two gay men. They connect at their 10-year high school reunion and again each decade thereafter.
Brought to life via excellent performances from Terry Ray and Kevin Allen, this inverted “no exit” scenario becomes painfully plausible. Steven Rosenbaum’s direction of Ray’s script distills those four decades into four sparkling vignettes of lives transformed.
Gary (the fairy) Henderson (played by Ray) is the closeted, virginal 28-year-old, so in denial that he voted for Ronald Reagan – twice. After finally crossing that threshold, he cannot understand why he must still remain alone.
Brad Burke (Allen) embraces a different denial by preferring anonymous, hit-and-run sexual encounters to the uncertainty of actually falling in love. Does anyone “deal” with falling in love?
Brad maintains his emotional distance by pigeonholing his fellow reunion attendees as “fat, boring, alcoholic or slut.” “No expectations” is his mantra. He is surprised by the answer to his question: “What is the best thing about having AIDS?”
Electricity is a compassionate and clear eyed, if not sober, look at what living “the life” can do to the person living that life. This is an unsentimental view of gay life, far removed from the laugh-a-minute portrayals seen on sitcom TV.
Together, these polar opposites poignantly discover the electricity generated by being real and vulnerable for each other.
Technical credits are excellent.
Note: occasional, brief nudity.
“Electricity” is staged at the Two Roads Theater located at 4348 Tujunga Ave. in Studio City. The show is extended through August 14th. For tickets call (213) 265-7972 or visit BrownPaperTickets.com.
This review originally appeared on July 17th in the Tolucan Times.