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THEATER REVIEW: “Tricks,” a coming-out story

In an exquisitely awkward first scene, Hank (Bryant Hernandez) cruises park hustler Daryl (Jacob Narcy) for the umpteenth time, finally managing to summon the courage to share the park bench.

A shared sandwich later, Hank is willing to endanger an 11-year marriage for the chance to “be held by another man.”

Inspired by an article in San Diego’s now-defunct Gay And LesbianTimes about a 17-year-old kicked out of his house for coming out, Hernandez wrote and presented “Tricks” as a one-act at the Riant Theatre’s Strawberry One-Act Festival in New York in 2004. This version is presented by Chronos Theatre Group of San Diego.

Hernandez’s Hank is heartbreaking in that first terrifying move toward coming out, getting little help from Narcy’s beautiful but blasé twerp Daryl (with human-distancing earphones seemingly permanently stuck in his ears). One is looking for romance and tenderness; the other just wants to get on with the sex and the financial gratification that will bring. Both are excellent actors and fine foils for each other.

Hernandez has fleshed out the original one-act by adding a second act in which he imagines what happens after that first encounter, and this is the world premiere of that longer piece. “Tricks” is directed by Sandra Ruiz.

Frankly, I think the second act weakens an already devastatingly effective piece by adding an ending that seems dramatically unlikely.

But it’s worth the trip to see that first act.

The details

Chronos Theatre Group production of “Tricks” plays through April 27 at the Tenth Avenue Arts Center, 930 Tenth Ave., Downtown.

Wednesday through Saturday at 8 pm; Sunday at 2 pm.

Tickets: (619) 356-1492, info@chronostheatre.com or HERE.

To read more reviews by SDGLN Theater Critic Jean Lowerison, click HERE.