Two gay couples, a 4-year-old child and a messy split-up are the elements in the west Coast premiere of Tom Donaghy’s 2002 “The Boys And The Girls,” playing through March 23 at Diversionary Theatre.
In a riveting first scene, Reed (Anthony Methvin) and Jason (Andrew Oswald) meet for an après-split drink and lots of awkward conversation. The forced joviality and “I-miss-yous” soon devolve into arguing about who walked out on whom, the excruciating “Are you seeing anyone?” query, recriminations about Jason’s drinking problem, the sad and tentative “what if” comments.
It’s a tricky situation – familiar to most of us – but Methvin and Oswald make it into an acting master class, as difficult to watch as it must be to play.
The rest of Donaghy’s script isn’t up to that breathtaking level, but “Boys And Girls” does offer evidence (if any were needed) that gays and lesbians have the same relationship problems the straight world does.
After that first scene, Reed meets with longtime lesbian galpal Bev (Chrissy Burns) and her wife Shelly (Faeren Adams). The girls, looking for a male role model for their 4-year-old son, have asked Reed to move in.
But Reed’s heart is clearly still with Jason, who is also wavering; the remainder of the play records what happens to these four characters in the eye of what may be an emotional disaster in the making.
Donaghy has a good facility for dialogue. The problem is is that after that brilliant first scene, there’s nowhere to go but down. The rest of the play, though occasionally amusing, consists a series of predictable scenes of progressively less impact. It feels a bit like a setup for a TV show.
Still, this is a fine production. Director Shana Wride keeps the story moving and the tension high, and her fine cast does the rest.
Burns, the lesbian who (we are told) jumped into the sack with Reed before she “got pussy-crazy” at age 24, makes a rather strange mate for Adams’ domineering Shelly, who wants things her way or no way.
Kudos to Matt Scott for his fine set design (another tricky thing about this play), and the rest of the production team: Kate Bishop costumes, Melanie Chen’s sound design and Luke Olson’s lighting.
This script could use a little work, but the Diversionary’s production is definitely worth seeing if only for that first scene.
“Boys And Girls” plays through March 23 at Diversionary Theatre, 4545 Park Blvd., Suite 101 in University Heights.
Thursday through Saturday at 8 pm; Sunday at 2 pm.
Tickets: (619) 220-0097 or HERE.
To read more reviews by SDGLN Theater Critic Jean Lowerison, click HERE.