or Everyone In America
Finborough Theatre Summer 2018
The subtitle of Jordan Seavey's play, with its allusion to Tony Kushner's epic, suggests that Homos is meant to resonate outward from its specific small story to a consideration of the broader gay experience.
But that is actually the weakest part of Seavey's play, which is best appreciated as the simple picture of the ups and downs of one relationship.
Two young men meet, fall in love and go to bed, not necessarily in that order, and then over a period of years go through the natural and almost inevitable experiences of happiness, jealousy, denial of issues until they build up and explode, temptation to stray, reconciliation and the like.
Each stage in their relationship is believable and both men remain sympathetic throughout. But Seavey is clearly striving for more.
The programme says the play covers the period of 2006-2011, but timechecks in its non-linear back-and-forth narrative place us variously in Reagan's America and Koch's New York in the Eighties, Bloomberg's New York in the Noughties and Obama's America in the Teens.
Larger milestones in gay history, from Stonewall through AIDS to the campaign for gay marriage are invoked, but generally the attempts at larger resonances don't work.
What does work is the story of two people navigating the complicated path of a relationship, though perhaps not in the way the playwright intended.
At one point one of the characters makes a sneering reference to Mart Crowley's The Boys In The Band as a no-longer acceptable picture of gay life. But Seavey's message is not really all that far from Crowley's.
His gay couple go through all the same emotions and confusions as a heterosexual pair in love would, along with others added by their sexuality.
It would take very little rewriting to make this story work with a man and a woman at its centre, and so Seavey's play takes us back to something very close to Crowley's assurance that gays aren't all that different from straights.
Director Josh Seymour has trouble guiding us through the play's back-and-forth chronology, and his one inserted device – having the actors move about between scenes in jerky fast-motion either forward or backward, as in time-lapse photography – is more than a bit silly.
Even allowing for the limited six-year time span, the characters neither age nor grow in any significant way, further adding to the chronological ambiguity.
Harry McEntire and Tyrone Huntley do convince us that a casual pick-up does develop into romance, an unsteady relationship and eventually a strong friendship, and make us care about the men and wish them well at every stage in their story. Cash Holland and Dan Krikler offer generous support in underwritten secondary roles.
Homos is not a resonant epic like Angels In America or a historically significant if no longer PC awkward first step like Boys In The Band. It is a sweet little story of two nice young men in love, nothing more or less.
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Review - Homos - Finborough Theatre 2018