Great Scott Productions

in association with

Larry Horowitz, Kenneth Scherer and Edith Grien-Scherer

present

SLEEPING WITH STRAIGHT MEN

Written and Directed by RONNIE LARSEN

 

Jared Scott, Mink Stole & Aaron Wimmer.  Photo: Kent Taylor

Maverick Theater, 307 W. 26 St., NYC Beginning January 28, 2003 for a limited engagement

 

Scenic Designer SCOTT ARONOW

Lighting Designer RUSSEL DRAPKIN

Production Stage Manager LAUREN A. OLIVA

Press Representative KPM ASSOCIATES/KEVIN P. McANARNEY

 

Cast

(in order of appearance)

 

Judy – JOANNA KEYLOCK

Jill Johnson – MINK STOLE

Brian – PAUL TENA

Mom – LEILA BABSON

Stanley – JARED SCOTT

Sally – HEDDA LETTUCE

Karen – DIA SHEPARDSON

Lee – AARON WIMMER

If only it were playing in a different space. If only it had a different ending. If only it had a discernible point of view. Then, most likely, would Ronnie Larsen’s promising and very funny SLEEPING WITH STRAIGHT MEN live up to its evident potential. If only any of these details mattered to the avid audience!

Inspired by the murder of Scott Amedure, a young man who revealed publicly a same-sex crush on acquaintance Jonathan Schmitz on "The Jenny Jones Show," the plot borrows from Mr. Amedure’s tragic life, but does so to explore the talk show culture, rather than the endemic homophobia evidenced by Schmitz’s ultimate reaction to being identified as the object of a gay man’s affection. In SLEEPING WITH STRAIGHT MEN, we meet Stanley, an avid fan of the talk shows, and a guy with a penchant for seducing inebriated, "straight" men and giving them blow jobs. He has an eye on handsome local waiter, Lee, and wastes no time telephoning the "Jill Johnson Show" when the opportunity arises to confess his amorous thoughts on the air. The notion of a secret admirer piques Lee’s ego and interest, and he agrees to travel to NYC and appear on the show. So far, all is fun and games and wondrous, gleeful expectations.

Here lies the trouble. Except for the very last moments of the play, the tone is airy, light and fun. We know a murder is coming, but only because we know the history. Otherwise, it is totally out of context with the rest of SLEEPING WITH STRAIGHT MEN (despite a few half-hearted "faggot" slurs). This play is a comedy, and then it is something else, but the horrible end never rings tragic. We never see it. We see the confession. We see the seduction. We see the straight boy get naked. We see some simulated sex acts. The murder, however, is entirely off stage.

And staging is a BIG problem here, though not due to any incompetence on Ronnie Larsen’s part. For, were he to stage this work so that, say, ninety percent of the audience at Maverick had an unobstructed view, the entirety of the piece would be performed in a space about as large as an oversized bathtub. It is simply a ruthless performance area, seemingly designed for discomfort and frustration amidst the audience.

Then, there is the good stuff of SLEEPING WITH STRAIGHT MEN. First and foremost, kudos to Mink Stole and Hedda Lettuce! Mink, as the talk show host, is as right on as she could be. A veteran of so many of John Waters’ early, underground films (and yes, I have seen most if not all), Ms. Stole long ago honed her skills, and has become a respectable actress in the process. Then there is Hedda. I do not know what this play would be without her timely lip-synchs. Be it "Hero" to accompany acts of sodomy or "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" amidst arising angst, Hedda Lettuce makes the tedious glamorous, the boring hilarious, and the bland beautiful.

A mixed bag, yes. However, the audience seemed to be delighted by SLEEPING WITH STRAIGHT MEN. Go figure!

- Kessa De Santis -

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