This was the weekend of live performances, and it made me realize I am a full lame-o about taking advantage of Detroit's cultural scene. I hit the Breathe production of "As Bees In Honey Drown" on Friday, as promised, and totally loved it.
Have you ever been to the Furniture Factory? (insert answer here) Me neither. That is one cool-ass black box theater, right over there on Third, the street you never end up driving down. The crowd was not really what I expected, but then when is it these days? I very probably was the only gay guy in the audience, although there was for sure a selection of lesbians to choose from.
There is a mandatory element of suspension of disbelief in attending live theater and being a total cynic, this presents a huge obstacle for me. But by intermission, I was doing fine. The play is really great. It's by Douglas Carter Beane, who wrote the screenplay for "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar" and the book for the new musical "Xanadu," not to mention winning a Tony Award this year for his play "The Little Dog Laughed." That's exceptionally gay. Anyway, the play is full of all the witty banter and gay pop cultural references you might expect, but it isn't really what I would call a "gay play" at all. It's just a plot point. Which is good because gay theater and cinema can be really irritating, as it so often falls in the trap of putting the emphasis on making a point instead of telling a story.
I was super impressed with the cast, and that lead role of Alexa Vere de Vere is like CRAZY full of rapid-fire dialogue, which the actress handled beautifully. The only way that could have been played better is if there were a drag queen in that role. The supporting cast was full of really surprisingly good actors too(I'll admit, I had my concerns going in).
My only small gripe - because this is my area of expertise - is that maybe the young feller playing the gay, Jewish, New York writer lead did not seem that ... gay? It can be a hard thing to nail, playing gay without playing flaming, but I just kind of thought the whole time that this guy is really straight. Wouldn't it be funny if the actor is gay in real life? Man, that's a problem, TOO straight-acting! Either way, he's cute so that mitigated things a lot.
And also there is the issue of the suit, the purchase of which is a somewhat significant plot point that is referenced several times through the play. The suit itself is fine (although costumer please note: if only one button on a three-button suit is to be buttoned, it should be the middle one, not the top one. I'd like to see the top two buttoned myself.) But the shirt. Oh Lord. It was just too big for a slim young man like our hero. It had the effect of making him seem less like an up-and-coming New York author caught in the whirlwind of celebrity and more like, well, a customer service specialist at Rock Financial in Livonia. I mean, a gay can only suspend his disbelief so much!
These minor quibbles aside (and please note, I have exactly zero qualifications to review theater), it was a really fun (and funny) play to see, and it was awesome to break out of the usual routine and see people creating something, just for my enjoyment. Regardless of gay audience content, I'm making an effort to incorporate live theater into my routine much more regularly. It's like a whole world of entertainment right under my nose that I've been ignoring. Go see this play, it will make you happy, and you will be supporting the creative economy that everyone is convinced needs to grow for Detroit to be a "world-class" city. Whatever that means. And you will still make it to the bar to meet your friends at the regular time.