A Red Orchid Theatre’s “Accidentally Like a Martyr” Review – Grief in a Gay Bar


As soon as the lights come on “Accidentally Like a Martyr” in the itsy space of A Red Orchid Theatre you know that masterful direction is at work.  (Director: Shade Murray).  What moments before had been a realistic bar setting (Set Design:  John Holt) switches to ON.



At first we don’t know which character to look at or listen to, but we do know they all are characters.  The bar is alive and abuzz.


This is a gay bar in Manhattan with an assorted group of regulars who have not abandoned it for the trendier spot down the street.   Everyone seems to have different tastes in music from the juke box, and competition to get their choice songs heard is an ongoing nuisance. 



A few of them are middle aged verging on old, with oversized vocabularies and quickly loaded zingers (Troy West as Edmund and Doug Vickers as Charles). 



A one-time cop is going in and out of the bathroom to keep his nose cocaine coated (Layne Manzer as Brendan). 



Through flashbacks we meet another regular (David Cerda as Scott) whom this ex-cop felt deeply about but who for some reason is no longer there. 



A guy looking more street comes in (Luce Metrius as J) to find this cop alerting the regulars that the ex-cop is in even more trouble than they had thought. 



And finally a younger more clean scrubbed man comes in and lingers (Steve Haggard as Mark), getting more and more sauced as he shares that he is being stood up for what he thought would be a great first date with someone he has met online.  



Through it all, the bartender (Dominique Worsley as Jeffrey) rides herd on the crowd sometimes with threats, sometimes with free drinks and often with admonishments of “Ladies, ladies..”



Through both the brilliance of the script and the acting there is not a moment when we lose that sense of the opening scene that this is REAL.  The repartee is so engaging that we just get carried along getting to know who’s who and what’s what without ever losing that feel that we are putting away shots in the bar with them.



Plot happens – and it’s ultimately a story about grief and those who do and don’t find renewal.  It happens in a gay bar, but when you strip the story down to its human essence it could happen in any neighborhood with longstanding regulars, in or out of a bar.


Now through March 1. 


A Red Orchid Theatre

1531 North Wells

Chicago, IL


For tickets or information call 312 943 8722 or visit A Red Orchid Theatre website.




Photos:  Michael Brosilow






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