KPBS AIRDATE: DECEMBER 29, 2000
In the beginning, there was a void. The world was a straight and narrow place, and darkness was upon the crooked landscape. And then, creative artists saw the light. And gay plays rained down upon us for what seemed like forty years. A veritable flood of homoerotic plays and performance art. Après Paul Rudnick, the deluge. Actually, there was a torrent before Paul Rudnick too, but his continues to be one of the funniest voices around; it’s just more mincing than most. In his fiction, like “I’ll Take It,” his stage plays, “Jeffrey” and “I Hate Hamlet,” and his screenplays, “Jeffrey” and “In and Out,” Rudnick has shown himself to be smart, witty, hip, insightful and as screamingly comic as he is screamingly fey. In 1998, as Cecil B. DeMille rolled over in his grave, Rudnick considered “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told” — a new take on the Old Testament, where the First Family is Adam and Steve and Jane and Mabel.
First, we witness the creation of the first couples — and their first coupling. Then Adam, ever the seeker, asks too many questions and gets them all kicked out of the Garden. From there, it’s as episodic as the original story. In swishing succession, we meet Moses and Pharaoh (also gay), and a leather-clad rhinoceros who hits on Adam on the Ark. Before you can say Deuteronomy, we’ve arrived at the New Testament, and we witness the birth of Jesus, which rapidly morphs into a modern-day, all-gay nativity pageant.
Act 2 takes place in a hip, Manhattan apartment on Christmas Eve, where Adam and Steve and Jane and Mabel are about to deliver their mutual offspring. Also present for the festivities are a go-go elf, a disabled lesbian rabbi and a cynical Santa. Rudnick dishes all beliefs and religions, but beyond his potshots, rim-shots and clever repartee, he’s really making a point, sometimes with an awfully heavy hand. Ultimately, it’s about acceptance. We all want the same things, after all: love, family, fidelity and something to believe in.
In the Diversionary Theatre production, director Tim Irving nails the comedy, but he allows most everything to go so over the top that the whole seems like a silly gay romp that loses its undeniable bite. Hopefully, Irving, a master of comic timing, will fine-tune the piece during its run. His cast is uneven but amusing. Michael Hummel is irresistible innocence as the ever-questioning Adam, and Melissa Supera is aptly airy-fairy as the New Age Mabel. Robert Borzych and Jessica Drizd do more posing than acting as the skeptical Steve and the bull dyke Jane, who really isn’t in this portrayal, though her butch childbirth monologue is, in itself, a miracle. In multiple roles, Laura Bozanich is best as a wide-eyed Mormon; Adam Edwards, uproarious as the prancing Pharaoh, should be more urbane, sarcastic (and much better dressed) as the epigrammatic WASP of the second act.
For once, Diversionary isn’t trying to bite off more than it can technically chew. The set and lighting have just the right cheesiness to complement the Stage Mangaer’s godlike calls (“Creation of the world, Go! Early Ikea, go!). The production isn’t perfect, but it has a lot going for it, and should tighten up with time. The play may be silly, but it’s trying to make a point. And so it was written, and so it shall be done.
©2000 Patté Productions Inc.