He Asked for It

Gay playwright Erik Patterson tackles HIV in a funny way -- no hospital beds here.

BY Amita Parashar

June 28 2009 11:00 PM ET

HE ASKED FOR IT Sarah Foret as Sophie X390 (AMBER BELLA) | ADVOCATE.COM

Weiss says he pushed the actors to make themselves emotionally vulnerable, especially Keegan and Unger, who come from comedic backgrounds. The effort comes through in some very dramatic scenes, such as Ted's ultimate demise. "There are very dark colors to these characters," he says. "The actors were incredibly eager to go to those places."

The tough messages of the play, though, are interspersed with witty, easy dialogue. (Who wouldn't laugh at a typical West Hollywood gay checking himself out in a car's side mirror as he gets fucked in the gym parking lot? His mate spends the experience talking about Scientology.)

Eventually, the play's focus shifts to Rigby, as the seemingly guilt-free character starts to rethink his own life and relationship to his HIV status. Rigby is forced to confront his lack of responsibility around spreading the virus to Ted and others. His tough front falls away, and he becomes desperate for any sort of human connection. "It's something we're all kind of yearning for and craving," Patterson says.

The cast of seven creates an intimate space for the audience to enter the characters' lives completely. Patterson has accomplished quite a feat in writing play that tackles tough issues around HIV while getting his audience to intermittently roar with laughter. Even though this play is nothing like Angels in America , I daresay that Mr. Kushner would be proud.

Tags: Theater

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