Seat Filler: NYC Theater Guide for November 2010
BY Brandon Voss
November 16 2010 6:15 PM ET
In a must-see for all queer theater history aficionados, London’s FallOut Theatre presents the U.S. premiere of Personal Enemy, a 1953 play by John Osborne and Anthony Creighton, as part of the annual Brits Off-Broadway series, which runs through January 2 at 59E59 Theaters. Written before Look Back in Anger, Osborne’s seminal “angry young man” classic, Personal Enemy tackles political and sexual paranoia at the height of McCarthyism in the U.S. Seen as a metaphor for the persecution of gays in Britain, the 1955 British premiere was heavily censored by the Lord Chamberlain for its suggestive homosexual content, which includes a possible gay suicide and the persecution of a male librarian who gives two brothers copies of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. The lost script was recently found in the Lord Chamberlain’s archives, and this production marks the first time it’s been seen in its entirety.
Out actor Malcolm Gets elevates every show he’s in, and Banished Children of Eve, which runs through December 5 at the Irish Repertory Theatre, is no exception. Adapted from Peter Quinn’s novel about Civil War–era New York and set against the backdrop of the 1863 draft riots in the Bowery neighborhood, Kelly Younger’s racially tense drama focuses on an Irish minstrel troupe leader, his mulatto girlfriend, and the black street urchin for whom they care. But Gets steals the show with an uncharacteristically subtle performance as Stephen Collins Foster, the enduring songwriter known for blackface minstrel ditties like “Oh! Susanna” and “Camptown Races.” As Foster, seen as a has-been in the last whiskey-stained months of his life, Gets croons a bittersweet rendition of the songwriter’s most memorable ballad, “Beautiful Dreamer,” which was published after his death at 37.