Should you see Baby, currently in its second of three weeks at Citilites, you might be as surprised as I was to learn this is Nick Moramarco’s maiden voyage as a director. He has pulled together a smart show with nine actors sometimes all on stage at once in a space the side of a postage stamp. Of course, there is a lot more to direction than moving the players around, but that skill is integral to a show’s pacing. Also, the minimal set on which Moramarco collaborated with GP Hunsaker is dominated by a bed (no surprise there, considering the subject) but it pushes back in the wall when the area in front of it needs to be clear for singing and dancing and such.
Songs from an Unmade Bed is an unexpected little gem that follows The Crumple Zone on weekend nights at 10:30 with two stand-alone Sunday matinees, one of which I attended yesterday. It’s diverting, occasionally moving, always relatable, and performed well by the multitalented Justin Ivan Brown. The time is “last night,” according to the program, and the setting is entirely identifiable as New York City. We’re told that’s where the show takes place, but we wouldn’t need to be because the central character (called simply “Man”) sings about the city in both celebration and lamentation, a New York “state of mind,” always at the forefront.
At the very end of The Crumple Zone, the audience learns what the title means. By then, I just didn’t care. This is a surprisingly amateurish effort by a company that has established itself as a force to be reckoned with since its reorganization and rebirth a couple of seasons ago. It has chosen to focus on gay playwrights and themes, and if there can be such a thing as a “mainstream niche,” Citilites is addressing it. However, this play is wildly uneven, and it was difficult to work up any sympathy for its under-drawn, stereotypical characters easily summed up as follows:
Mark is a sissy. So are T.J, Andrew and Benny. At least according to the Calvary Baptist Church in Texas where they've grown up together as four out of the 40 boys in their Sunday school, they are (which squares with "the statistics," according to Mark). Apparently "sissy" is the polite way of saying "faggot" because the word "gay" doesn't seem to be in the church's vocabulary. And there's nowhere for sissies to go when they die except hell to wail and gnash teeth along with the drunkards, adulterers, and other fornicators like themselves. They may have been "washed in the blood" of the lamb all right, but here, they've also been choked on it.