Theater News Online
free issue
London Theatre Reviews
NY Theater Reviews
LTN Recommendations
NYTN Recommendations
Book Reviews
Movie Reviews
London Theatre Archives
NY Theater Archives
Latest New York News
Latest London News
NY News Archives
London News Archives
Peter Filichia's Monday Quiz
Dining and Travel
London Theatre Listings
NY Broadway Listings
Off-Broadway Listings
London Tickets
Advertise with us

Subscribe
Renew
Give a Gift


Logo

Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

 
ALL ABOUT STEVE
at the Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre

MIDLIFE CRISES
By JESSICA BRANCH

  Malcolm Gets, Jerry Dixon, Mario Cantone and Matt McGrath/ Ph: Monique Carboni

There are actually four Steves in this new comedy from Mark Gerrard. There’s Stephen (Malcolm Gets), the middle-aged lawyer who’s (apparently) happily ensconced in family life with his boyfriend of 16 years and child – but who harbors some secrets that suggest otherwise. There’s Steve-the-trainer (who doesn’t make an actual onstage appearance), whose services seem to be on-tap for pretty much every middle-aged gay man in the play. There’s Esteban (Francisco Pryor Garat), the hot young Argentinean dancer/waiter with a social conscience who just keeps showing up, trailing temptation wherever he goes. But most of all, there’s Steven (Matt McGrath), Stephen’s house-husband, a slightly-less-middle-aged former chorus hoofer wannabe who’s on the frontline of gay coupledom – coping with growing older, raising a kid and the discontents of monogamy.
 
Even before the show starts, the audience is treated to a hearty helping of piano-bar standards, raucously sung by cast members vamping around an actual piano. It’s meant to evoke the singing-waiter-styled restaurant that originally brought Steven, Stephen and their friends Carrie (Ashlie Atkinson) and the couple Matt (Mario Cantone) and Brian (Jerry Dixon) together. Not coincidentally, it also reminds us of the idioms that have set their expectations for happily ever after.
 
But when the metaphorical curtain rises, it’s on the far more sedate setting of a pricey contemporary restaurant. Stephen and Carrie, who has cancer, are discussing her disease’s effect on her blog (it’s taken off) and her girlfriend (she’s taken off as well). The friends are all assembling to celebrate Steven’s birthday, but when he arrives, he’s wound up and spoiling for a fight. His combative mood’s not without motive, as it turns out. With the accidental help of the couple’s kleptomaniac kid, he’s made a discovery that throws into question that whole happy life he and Stephen have been building together.
 
Directed with understanding and precision by Cynthia Nixon (who directed Rasheeda Speaking, also with The New Group, last season), this slick but ultimately satisfying production investigates just what happens when gay couples of a certain age have to balance the paradigms of middle-class marriage with a history of fighting for sexual liberation. It’s a popular theme this year – witness the more plodding Dada Woof Papa Hot at the Lincoln Center Theater – and Gerrard handles it with a deft sophistication that’s impressive, given that it’s his first New York play. The dialogue sparkles and the show-tune references flow, but the underlying issues – midlife monogamy, failed expectations, imminent mortality – are never far from the characters’ minds, and their banter, however comic, is their way of coming to terms.
 
As Steve tries to cope with betrayal, temptation and the loss of his best friend, McGrath gets to run the emotional gamut of the admittedly narcissistic Everyman. He’s relatable without being sentimentalized, even when his response to Carrie’s illness remains a determined denial, despite her attempts to move beyond the superficial. Indeed, the often unbalanced but ultimately loving rapport between Steven and Carrie is one of the play’s greatest achievements – just as McGrath’s tense, energetic performance and Atkinson’s bluff bigheartedness are two of the production’s greatest assets.
 
Wry, witty and unexpectedly original, Steve’s likely to be a winner with audiences of all preferences. Not only is Gerrard familiar with the midlife minefield and the showtune subtexts, he even brings a few stylistic tricks to bear – “fantasy” sequences and a few tour-de-force scenes featuring projected texts. But what’s most appealing here, as it is in the oft-cited American standards, is not the glitz and glibness but the play’s sheer honesty about the issues we all face.

 


SUBSCRIBE TO New York Theater News
SUBSCRIBE TO London Theater News

SCHEDULE UPDATES -
Yes, Prime Minister contracts its run, while A Chorus Line expands its own.
POWERHOUSE OF THEATRE - After 11 years as the Almeida Theatre's artistic director, Michael Attenborough is stepping down to focus on directing. 

SONGS FROM THE HEART - Once the Tony-Award winning musical is set to hit London in January.


Wine, Fruit, and Gourmet Gift Baskets.
Privacy Notice   |   Front Page
Copyright © TheaterNewsOnline.com. All Rights Reserved.