|GayFest! Theater Review: Mike and Seth |
posted by Valerie Temple on Aug 23, 2012 10:00am | comments
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Valerie Temple is the Programming Manager of Bryn Mawr Film Institute,
as well as a filmmaker, video producer and writer whose work has
appeared on such sites as The Awl. This is her first Qfest and she is
super excited about it. You can follow her on Twitter or stalk her on Facebook.
Barely noticing the Texas ice storm raging outside, two lifelong friends – Mike (straight) and Seth (gay) – hole up in a fancy hotel room and talk into the wee hours of the morning on the night before Mike gets married.
Setting the tone early for Daniel Talbott’s new play, Mike and Seth, the chilly sound of an oppressive thunderstorm filled the theater in the moments before the play began - a departure from the thematically-related pop songs typically heard during this time. For example, the Christmas-set The Crumple Zone chose holiday carols for their pre-show music. Mike and Seth lets the audience know that “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” in a much more somber way, in keeping with the introspective, philosophical leanings of this extended one-act play.
One-percenters Mike (Ben Storey) and Seth (Calvin Atkinson) are friends from childhood who share a hotel room (and a king-sized bed, inexplicably) on the night prior to Mike’s planned wedding to his girlfriend. Unsurprisingly, Mike has cold feet and keeps Seth awake through the night talking about the past, the future, and what could have been. Despite their young age (mid-twenties counts as young, right?), the pair each confesses to bizarre ways of handling the pressure of growing up privileged. Mike cops to repeatedly running away to the woods to jerk off in the middle of the work day while Seth, who recently ended things with his cheating boyfriend, finds comfort in checking into hotel rooms so that he won’t be bothered by the outside world for a precious few hours in the day. However universal, these upper class white people problems make it hard to relate to the plights of the characters as a whole, which affects the emotionally impact of the plot.
Calvin Atkinson embodied the role of Seth, although I’m not sure why it was necessary to see his rear end in the first ten minutes of the play. Ben Storey also gave a great, layered performance as nostalgic Mike, but I was distracted by the brief, yet gratuitous full frontal nudity displayed in the epilogue. Actually, I think I would’ve enjoyed the play more had I left before the last five minutes, which consisted of the eponymous characters getting dressed in ill-fitting tuxes as a song loudly played in the background. Although cinematic, I wish this thoughtful play would’ve ended on a more definitive note. Despite these minor flaws, I think this intellectual play is a must-see.