Out Late, a new play by Tim Turner, makes its world premiere at the Macha Theater (formerly the Globe Theater) in West Hollywood. The play contains all the best elements found in a dramatic rendering of a May-December romance, but with a queer twist.
Charles Barnett (Nic d'Avirro) is a successful, 60-something doctor whose world gets turned upside down when he gets hit on by a younger man. He tries to write it off as nothing. After all, boys like this are all just looking for a Sugar Daddy. The handsome young man couldn't really be interested in him, right?
"I've always had to create my own reality."
The mantra of a young gay man who has always been attracted to such older men, and as such, is somewhat of a mutant in his gay community. Evan Ramsey (Kasey Mahaffy) is a young TV producer who is referred to Dr. Barnett because of pain in his "private parts". Evan is mature, smart and worldly for his age. He is immediately smitten by the older man and has only marginal success in his effort to not flirt with the doctor.
So the two try to forget about each other.
Evan returns to his White Stripes-blaring single life and Charles returned to Eileen (Judy Jean Berns) his wife of 37 years. But a new restless follows Charles well after then encounter. Try as he may to keep things the same between himself and Eileen, he becomes impatient with his wife's efforts to impose normality – most recently through aesthetic continuity by uprooting the pink and purple azaleas with white ones.
Charles manages to save a few pink flowers by taking some impromptu to Evan's place. They both know it is a mistake to become involved with each other. They begin the visit with the agreement that they can only be friends, someone to talk to. The scene ends with a kiss and thus the affair begins.
It takes six months for their different tastes in music to blossom into an actual argument about Evan wanting more from the relationship. Just when the affair seems at an end, tragedy strikes and Charles suddenly sees no more reason to be in the closet, sending the lives of his family and lover into a tailspin.
Linda Barrett (Meghan Maureen McDonough), adult daughter of Charles and Eileen. She is in therapy for female sexual dysfunction, which basically means she does not enjoy sex. She is the comic relief of the piece. Ironically, through therapy, she is questioning heredity and environment in an effort to figure out what's wrong with her, much like society debates over the question of sexual orientation. She is wonderfully detached and painstakingly tortured at all the right moments. But just like her parents, she is dutiful to her family even though she is fearful of inheriting her mother's alcoholism.
Ordinarily, I would applause a person's grabbing the opportunity to living exactly the life he or she wants to have for themselves. However, by the end, I found it hard to sympathize with Charles, because I did feel as though he used everyone around him. Barrett is the product of a different time, when doing what is expected and honoring your parents was paramount. The character of Eileen lived her life based on a similar feeling of obligation. His coming out would have been brave thirty years prior. But at this point, Charles has nothing to lose.
This play raises an enormous question about seizing one's opportunity for happiness. Should Charles's happiness come at the expense of all the people around him? He didn't experience a sexual awakening, but rather a realization that life is short. Does that give him more or less of a right to tell his wife of three decades, "I was never happy with you"? Did he lie by repressing his inclinations towards men? Should Eileen have recognized her husband's lack of affection by their non-touching air kisses? Did he even really lie about having love for a woman with whom he rarely expressed physical love?
Despite my personal conflict over the morality of our protagonist, I truly enjoyed this play. After all, the best plays make us think and this was a story I had not seen before. The acting was simply superb. d'Avirro, Mahaffy, Berns and McDonough give beautifully crafted performances. Bravo.
I really enjoyed Tim Turner's emotional charged script. The staging has our four characters delivering internal monologues, and even confrontations, while directly addressing the audience. It is a curious choice given the caliber of actors in the piece. Perhaps the choice to have the actors look out onto the audience it is a commentary on how people talk at each other rather than to each other, how we think we are communicating, when we're really not.
Out Late is open now and runs thru August 12, 2007.
(formally The GLOBE PLAYHOUSE)
1107 N. Kings Road
(at Santa Monica Blvd.)
West Hollywood, CA 90069
For Reservations call: (323) 960-7829
There will be an intermission.
Play does include nudity