Pride Films and Plays Presents HOMOS, OR EVERYONE IN AMERICA Review – Variations on the theme of intimacy

Energetic dialogue marks an inside view of two men navigating relationship in Brooklyn in the midst of a changing political/personal landscape for gay men in America. Pride Films and Plays’ Homos, Or Everyone In America is a non-linear patchwork of coming together, falling apart and the permutations in between that mark a genuine conversation to stay connected. A conversation has never been so riveting.

The Writer and The Scholar

A series of present moments between an aspiring writer and an ambitious academic are often charming, humorous and some times painful in this witty and riveting production. The writer’s inability to decide on a red or a white wine belie his attraction to the academic. The academic is charmed by the writer’s adroit use of onomatopoeia. Their nervous, flirty banter scantly betrays the immediacy of their attraction. We don’t need to know their names. It is enough to see the electricity between them when they stand face to face, juggling desire and skittish attempts at cogent conversation.

Pride Films and Plays HOMOS, OR EVERYONE IN AMERICA
L-R: Jordan Dell Harris, Nelson A. Rodriguez
Pride Films and Plays HOMOS, OR EVERYONE IN AMERICA
L-R: Niko Kourtis, Nelson A. Rodriguez

Flash forward to a comfortable intimacy that looks like it’s wearing well. We don’t know how they got there, nor does it matter. The street lights go out triggering a panic attack for the academic while the writer coaxes him back to calm. A quick cut to the academic’s casual mention of Dan, his new BFF and the writer is conflicted. Is he handsome? Is he strapping? Is he tall? Is he black? Quick cuts become a delight that require assumption and keep the story moving at a good clip.

Monogamy Or Monogamish – An Excellent Theme for a Pride Films and Plays Production

A heart to heart conversation contrasting their feelings about monogamy seem to circle back to Dan, the BFF in the back of both their minds. Dan’s presence on stage, enticing in his beach wear, or dressed to the nines at a professional function is a palpable taste of temptation for them both. Jordan Seavey’s script is smart enough to conceal jealousy with the delight that Dan might be of interest to the both of them. The required conversation about monogamy is broached, if not resolved.

Tidbits of recent history orient the viewer to the first decade of this century. Myspace to Friendster, Taliban threats to security, the defeat of DOMA — these touchstones move the writer and the academic steadily toward a legitimization of their relationship in a broader culture. The legalization of gay marriage moves the personal dialogue to the broader political conversation. Will same-sex marriage change American marital ideals? The writer and the academic embody the dialogue before our eyes.

Pride Films and Plays HOMOS, OR EVERYONE IN AMERICA
L-R: Niko Kourtis, Nelson A. Rodriguez
Pride Films and Plays HOMOS, OR EVERYONE IN AMERICA
L-R: Jordan Dell Harris, Niko Kourtis

The Unbidden Angel

A moment of personal crisis brings the writer to seek refuge at a body/bath boutique where Laila, the bath bomb consultant provides the calm he needs. Laila is the mystic in this play whose acuity with flavored bath potions provide cogent metaphors to the writer seeking solace in the midst of chaos. Would that life could be see easily resolved by immersion into the calm of a bath. Laila’s presence suggests that kindness may be enough.

Pride Films and Plays HOMOS, OR EVERYONE IN AMERICA
L-R: Nelson A. Rodriguez, Niko Kourtis
Pride Films and Plays HOMOS, OR EVERYONE IN AMERICA
L-R: Nelson A. Rodriguez, Niko Kourtis

Star Turn of the Script

In this reviewer’s opinion, the standout of this production is Jordan Seavey’s script. It is masterful in weaving the non-linear into a big picture. There is a sense of completeness in the arc of the story. A close up look at how a couple negotiates the vicissitudes of intimacy is less voyeurism and more universal. Any one navigating the waters of life with others will resonate with this play and come away more connected to the rewards of the effort.

Pride Films and Plays HOMOS, OR EVERYONE IN AMERICA
Nelson A. Rodriguez
Pride Films and Plays HOMOS, OR EVERYONE IN AMERICA
L-R: Jessica Vann, Nelson A. Rodriguez, Niko Kourtis
L-R: Jordan Dell Harris, Niko Kourtis
Pride Films and Plays HOMOS, OR EVERYONE IN AMERICA
L-R: Nelson A. Rodriguez, Niko Kourtis

Highly Recommended

Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.

Cast:

The Academic: Nelson Rodriguez
The Writer: Niko Kourtis
Dan: Jordan Dell Harris
Laila: Jessica Vann

Writer: Jordan Seavey
Director: Derek Van Barham
Costume Design: Uriel Gomez
Set, Lighting, Sound, and Properties: G. Max Maxin IV
Intimacy Design: Sasha Smith
Stage Manager: Damian Portz
Assistant Director and Dramaturg: Justin J. Sacramone

When:

Thru September 30, 2018
Thursday-Saturday @ 7:30PM
Sunday @ 3:30PM

Where:

Pride Arts Center – The Broadway
4139 N. Broadway
Chicago

All photos by Austin D. Oie Photography

 

Note: An excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago

Stephen B. Starr
Stephen B. Starr Photo: Eric Ramirez

About the Author:

Stephen B. Starr is Principal of Stephen B. Starr Design, Inc., a design and communication consultancy in Evanston, IL. Stephen is a former president of the Chicago Creative Coalition, organizer for the Chicago Weekly Sitting Meditation Group and founded and organized the Chicago Web Professionals for 12 years. Stephen is nurtured creatively by the fine art of story-telling — especially in the theater. As a college journalism major, he has since followed the siren’s call of poetry and short story writing in his free time. He is interested in the wisdom of indigenous spiritual traditions and seeks inspiration in natural settings by gardening, camping, hiking and biking.

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