By Craig Donnelly
Directed by Paul Edwards
Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited
One of many offerings at the inaugural Broadway Bound Festival is a slice of life drama about a couple engaged to be married who are physically injured in a violent anti-gay attack and broken by the emotional torment that contaminates their relationship. It is refreshing to see an LGBTQ play that is not sugar coated, melodramatic, or steeped in sorrow. Playwright Craig Donnelly uses a simple intelligent formula by beginning with an event, which soon after creates a situation, which in turn causes conflict because of the repercussions from the event, and then ends with a resolution. The dialogue is candid and natural, not forced and almost makes the audience feel as if they are eavesdropping.
Director Paul Edwards guides his cast with a calm and steady hand, never conceding to the pitfalls of stereotype or exaggeration. Daniel Yaiullo turns in a sensitive, convincing Brian who enlists his gay activist persona to assist him in the heated debates. It is in his therapy sessions where he lets all guards down, as honesty ever so slowly surrenders to emotion. Sal England provides a sturdy and intelligent Adam, more frightened of himself than his attackers. Even with heartfelt intentions, as he continues to protect himself he injures his partner. He is real but constantly in need of a reality check. Their relationship is uncompromising but their chemistry compelling.
Mr. Donnelly’s script is not perfect and certainly needs a bit of tightening if he wants to be as convincing and real as his characters. There are too many loopholes that are like dangling chads. It is clear that the violent attack is the catalyst for revelations but if these two men are getting married shouldn’t they know each other’s idiosyncrasies already? If Brian has attended all of Adam’s social events at his workplace wouldn’t Adam’s co-workers and boss know he was gay and has a partner? Arguments abound and outweigh any indication of a positive loving relationship. Also, the scales are tipped in Brian’s direction since he gets to reveal his feelings during therapy sessions. Perhaps Adam also needs an outlet of some sort that exposes his emotional intelligence.
What this young playwright has accomplished is revealing how complicated and difficult gay marriage may be, or any marriage for that matter. It is not to be taken lightly or as the thing to do just because a long-fought battle has been won. It is a serious commitment not to be controlled by social pressure and a legal bond that should be respected. Hopefully the gay community will not emulate the current divorce rate of hetero marriages in this country. Kudos to Mr. Connelly for a fresh and honest perspective on the battle for LGBTQ equal rights that does not try to conceal the bumps and bruises that may occur. It is an onerous slice of life.