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a Drama
by Scott Elmegreen and Drew Fornarola

COMPANY : Out of Box Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Out of Box Theatre at Artisan Resource Center [WEBSITE]
ID# 5386

SHOWING : November 02, 2018 - November 10, 2018



Meet Ben. Ben is a 26-year-old investment banker. Ben likes beer, sports and Emily … and Chris. "Straight" is a provocative new play that deals with fidelity, sexuality and identity in "post-equality" America. Funny, sad, sexy and surprising, this three-character drama takes a hard look at the moral complex of a generation that prides itself on the pretense of acceptance.

Director Matthew Busch
Emily Jessica Claire
Chris Dillion Everett
Ben Jake West
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Swapping Saliva
by playgoer
Sunday, November 18, 2018
Ben (Jake West) has a long-time girlfriend, Emily (Jessica Claire), who has been hinting strongly that they should move in together, but he wants to keep his own place as a love nest to accommodate his new boyfriend Chris (Dillion Everett). What will happen if they meet? What will Ben do when it comes time to make a choice? "Straight" tells us.

The premise sounds like a farcical comedy, but "Straight" is anything but. It’s full of serious discussions. Ben declares that a person is pigeonholed as gay if an instance of gay sex is revealed, but Ben and Chris have dipped their toes in both ends of the dating pool, and Ben doesn’t want to be pigeonholed. Scenes often end with Ben making out with one or another of his love interests. It’s fairly slow-moving, and its slam against Obamacare and the resolution of Ben’s predicament are likely to raise the hackles of audiences. The play is the epitome of Out of Box Theatre’s theme of "intimate, thought-provoking, unexpected."

The production is excellent. The set, designed by Matthew Busch and Carolyn Choe, shows a nicely appointed Boston apartment, with the outside door up right and an archway up left. Up center is a pair of windows in a brick section of the wall; otherwise the walls are taupe above and cream below. A sofa, armchair, and small coffee table take up center stage. Bar stations (liquor and coffee) are against the right and left walls. Open shelving and artwork break up the expanse of walls, with a plant by the archway. Bradley Rudy’s lighting shows bright blue through the windows at the start of scenes before general illumination comes up. A floor lamp by the outside door blends seamlessly into the overall lighting scheme.

The play starts with a number of short scenes, and scene transitions are filled with rock music in Matthew Busch’s sound design. The longish transitions seem needed for costume changes, but the costumes are pretty unremarkable. Ben is described as dressing well and having perfectly coiffed hair, but we don’t get that impression from what we see. That’s just a minor quibble, though. The words and action are what drive this play, not its design elements.

Direction and acting are phenomenal. Director Matthew Busch has gotten nice emotional levels and naturalistic speech from his highly talented actors. The intermissionless play may seem a tad long, but that’s more a function of the script than of this production. High praise needs to be apportioned to Mr. Busch, Mr. West, Ms. Claire, and Mr. Everett. Their efforts have elevated the script into an intriguing piece of theatre. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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