Monday, June 25, 2018

Log Cabin: Wide to the Right

 Published on Reviews Off-Broadway
The time of the gay stereotype is thankfully over. Theater no longer has to show gays as a tragic sideshow or sassy gay friend, now gays can be anything. Log Cabin chooses to show them as confused defenders of the status quo against the trans community. Such is progress.
Log Cabin is set over 7 years of rapid political and societal advancement in the gay and lesbian community – from 2012 to 2017. And we view these changes through the well-meaning eyes of one gay and one lesbian couple, who are longtime friends. Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Philip James Brannon play Ezra and Chris, an interracial couple who seem pretty well suited to each other. Pam and Jules, the lesbian couple, are played by Cindy Cheung and Dolly Wells respectively. They seem easy and at ease with each other, full of easy tender moments instead ravishing desire.
Cindy Cheung, Dolly Wells, Jessie Tyler Ferguson, Phillip James Brannon
The play opens with Ezra and Chris telling the women about Ezra’s father’s unacceptance of them as a couple, which astonishes Ezra. This discussion is followed quickly by Ezra’s uncomfortableness about the status of his oldest friend, then Helen, now Henry. The juxtaposition is Spielbergian in it’s painful obviousness. Ezra also gets to flail about uncomfortably as Pam and Jules discuss having a baby: you see Chris wants a child and Ezra does not. Not only does Ezra not want a child, he does not want to talk about it.
Time flies by and soon the baby has arrived. Since he doesn’t speak, various characters get to have imagined conversations with the child to explore their insecurities. Henry (né Helen) also drops by for dinner. He brings Myna, a free spirit  andlove interest, along. Henry and Myna are played by Ian Harvie and Talene Monahon. What follows is why one should never decide to have a long-postponed conversation with your transsexual ex-prom date in front of strangers. Mitchell Ezra manages to offend everyone even as he is admitting to his own insecurities.  Jules disappears into the baby’s room, only to be joined later by Henry who then flirts / berates Jules into masturbating in some bizarre self-misogynistic way. Perhaps the underlying erotic tension of the moment only eluded me, but the moment seemed forced and artificial.
After spending the evening fighting, Ezra decides to accede to Chris’ desire to have a child, because that is one of the top reasons to bring a new person into the world, to make up after a fight. Then Ezra and Chris make this magic moment even sweeter by going to Henry and asking him to go off testosterone in order to get pregnant and partner with them in forming a family. Remember, when we last saw Henry - only moments earlier - he was being an asshole to the boys and cheating with a lesbian mom, but such are how happy homes are made. For a moment I wondered if Log Cabin was actually written by a member of the moral majority to show how disgusting the homosexuals really are, I am still not convinced it wasn’t.
Ian Harvie, Talene Monahon, Dolly Wells, Jessie Tyler Furgeson & Phillip James Brannon
When another year has passed and we next we see the company, Henry is pregnant (looking remarkably like the first pregnant man spread in Time a few years ago), Jules and Pam don’t discuss that evening and Ezra and Chris are broken up over an infidelity. In one of the few moments that felt real to me, Cindy Cheung gives a heartfelt speech on the meaning of relationships and forgiveness that almost made me forgive this show. Almost.
Log Cabin was written with incredible wit and verve by Jordan Harrison, but I could have used some real emotion. I don’t enjoy saying this, I though Mr. Harrison’s piece Marjorie Prime was a fantastic show and was looking forward to Log Cabin. Pam MacKinnon does an excellent job of direction, helping ground the piece as much as possible. Log Cabin is very good when it isn’t frustrating or overly showy. But those moments don’t come often enough for me to recommend this.
Log Cabin
Playwright: Jordan Harrison
Director: Pam MacKinnon
Cast: Phillip James Brannon, Cindy Cheung, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ian Harvie, Talene Monahon, Dolly Wells

No comments: