Jerker opens with two spot lite mattresses on opposite sides of the stage with actors Trevor Bates and Cody Dericks occupying each of the beds.
It is 1986 in San Francisco during the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. For the next 65 minutes, we watch and hear a relationship a relationship developing between Bert, Dericks and J.R., Bates entirely through phone conversations.
Previously Bert in a drunken night out at the Castro Street bars had given J.R. his phone number.
Through their phone conversations rich and vivid sexual fantasies are lived out where Bert pretends that J.R. is his little brother, but as time progresses the two begin to connect as more than just strangers seeking sexual fulfillment. Though they never meet again, a sexual, romantic, and caring bond is formed between the two.
What they share in common is fear. Fear that having a real and physical connection during this time period would often lead to death. They discuss this fact with each other and find comfort in both reminiscing about the good times and the beauty of being sexual before the virus. They each find safety and comfort in their phone relationship.
The timeframe in which they converse is unknown. It does end abruptly and dramatically, which this writer will not detail so as to avoid a spoiler. Suffice it to say that it was so explosively dramatic that this writer decided to leave the theater and return to see the second play in this BEDS two-play offering on a different night.
Two Boys in a Bed on a Cold Winter’s Night
Two Boys in a Bed on a Cold Winter’s Night transports us to New York City 1996.
We are in Daryl’s bedroom where he has just finished a sexual tryst with Peter.
But the play is more than just pillow talk between actors Christopher Kauffman and Nick Bryant. Daryl hounds Bruce into discussing his sexual history along with other pertinent decade related topics from music, NYC’s infamous bar scene, to the AIDS epidemic.
What could have been a typical one-night stand turns into an episode of two men bearing their souls as they reminisce about life, love, sex, drugs, and the loneliness that comes along with one night stands. We get a map of how these one night stands fueled Daryl’s insecurities and fear that he will never find a partner. Here too, as in Jerker, there is a poignant dramatic ending that it would be a spoiler to detail.
Life During Peak of AIDS Crisis
These combined plays billed as Beds portrays what life was like for gay men during the AIDS crisis. We are reminded how beautiful expressions of one’s own sexuality could lead to death. The scripts are powerful and capture this time perfectly.
The play, Beds, is part of June’s month long celebration at Pride Plays and Films. Note: The play contains male nudity, simulated sexual acts, and graphic sexual language.
About the Author:
Steven Braun, Volunteer Engagement Committee Leader and Volunteer Trainer at Center on Halsted was born and raised suburbanite, now 30 years Chicago urbanite. Steve is a real estate entrepreneur and germane to these pages, also a member of, advocate for, and friend to the LGBTQ Community. When not volunteering, writing, or at the gym, Steve can be found watching "House Hunters."