Seat Filler: NYC Theater Guide for March 2010
BY Brandon Voss
March 29 2010 1:10 PM ET
According to her bio, Suzanne Brockmann is a “proud PFLAG mom” and a best-selling author of novels about a gay FBI agent. That makes Brockman pretty swell in my book, but Looking for Billy Haines, the play she’s penned with husband Will McCabe, had me looking for the exit. I’m grateful that this chipper romantic comedy, scheduled through May 22 at the Lion Theatre, introduced me to Haines, an openly gay silent film star who gave up his career to remain in a public relationship with his partner, Jimmie. The playwrights fumbled when they chose to tell this fascinating story through Jamie, a fictional present-day New York actor auditioning for a film about Haines. Jamie’s dream sequences do allow for some delightful tap numbers, but his wacky roomies and closeted boyfriend should’ve made like Haines’s films and stayed silent.
Like its playwright, Bill Cain, former artistic director of the Boston Shakespeare Company, you’d have to be a total Shakespeare geek to truly appreciate Equivocation, a historical fantasy that played Manhattan Theatre Club’s New York City Center through March 28. Darkly directed by Garry Hynes with farcical haunted-house flair, this ambitious comedy imagines how Shakespeare might’ve managed to put on the crowd-pleasing Macbeth when forced to write a false history of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, an attempt by Catholics to kill King James I. Standing out in a fine cast that features What’s That Smell’s David Pittu and Mad About You’s John Pankow as the Bard, the handsome and sometimes shirtless David Furr hams up the kilted king’s Scottish brogue and bisexuality, particularly when he molests a Macbeth actor in drag.