by Carole Di Tosti
When a wedding invitation sends a symbolic message about de rigueur lifestyle choices which are unacceptable, “odd man out” Gerry must make a vital decision. Should he attend the wedding with a mountain of repressed anger? Or should he, in protest, absent himself, stay at home and steam in his own bile, while his friends have a blast consuming all the wine, beer, stiff alcoholic drinks, cocaine and other drugs while dancing the night away without him? Well, watch the fur fly; Gerry decides to go.
Bright Colors and Bold Patterns, concisely directed by the immensely talented Michael Urie, written and performed by the comically inimitable Drew Droege tickles your funny bone and shakes you with uproarious laughter. This is a production that offers a peerless evening of entertainment with some interesting, thoughtful twists.
On the surface the smartly designed show is a non-stop, riotous melee of one-liners, acidic quips and witty “in-your-face” jibes that would make Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog cheer. Gerry (Drew Droege- a brilliant comic with surprises up his every bright sleeve) is outrageously, ecstatically gay. During the course of the night-before-the-wedding celebration on the host’s Palm Springs patio, Gerry chats with two guests, his former boyfriend of a brief sexual interlude, Dwayne, and Matt, Dwayne’s gorgeous, twenty-something lover. Another friend, Neil, with whom Gerry has a rather twisted history, appears later.
Droege is loquaciously solo. He replies to the brief questions of invisible characters Dwayne, Matt and Neil with such dedicated in-the-moment realism, we forget no one is there. The dialogue and Droege’s superb, spot-on acting and timing make this unconventional convention work. Also, the situational plot development is soundly conceived. Gerry is on a high-flying rant which he fires up with alcohol and drugs. His spewing, acerbic humor mesmerizes and he delightfully consumes us with excoriating remarks about his hosts and his so-called friends. Gerry is a soaring “in vino veritas.” We, Dwayne and Matt discover Gerry’s poignant yet screamingly uproarious revelations that Droege as Gerry delivers with intentionally graceless aplomb.
The conflict augments with gradually increasing explosions. We learn what burns Gerry, and it isn’t the huge supply of snorted coke or imbibed alcohol, which is enough to sustain a forest fire for three days. We discover that despite appearances, it has taken Gerry much of his lifetime to be thrilled about his identity, his over-the-top lifestyle and flamboyant personality. Now that marriage between same-sex couples is legal, every LBGT couple is celebrating by embracing the “straight” world’s tradition of “tying the knot,” including Josh and Brennan. However, the contradiction in political terms is obvious. Weddings/marriage by their nature are bastions of conservatism and “normalcy.” For LBGT folks, what are they really embracing? Why do they even want to appear “normal?” Isn’t it something that is by its nature rigid and nullifying?
The wedding invitation’s hidden message about guests not wearing bright colors and bold patterns is politically sub rosa “normalspeak.” Must LGBT marriage (as ludicrously inferred by Josh and Brennan’s invitation) be as “apple-pie” and dangerously homogenized as all marriage? Gerry’s irate hysterical rants ask significant questions: is there room for individuality, particularity and crazy fun in the conventions of marriage? Or will LGBT marriage be subsumed into the stereotypical horrors of all marriage where the spouses are unable to withstand the strains and stresses that straight couples confront: the syphoning off of life by the familiarity of contempt and silence of isolation? Will LGBT couples be able to keep their vows and stay with the same person for the rest of their lives? And where does Gerry fit in with all of this? Once more, he feels the “odd man out” unable to measure up or fit in.
Dara Wishingrad’s set design is specific and energetically colorful, relaying its own humorous notes. Droege is an unforgettable, one-of-a-kind performer and Urie is a directing treasure. Both make this production sizzle and pop. I loved Bright Colors and Bold Patterns for the laughs and revelatory themes. It is a must-see, but hurry, it is in a limited engagement for the holidays.
The laugh-a-minute Bright Colors and Bold Patterns is being presented by Form Theatricals at Barrow Street Theatre (Twenty-seven Barrow Street, NYC). Barrow Street Theatre Box Office opens daily at 1 pm. The phone number is (866) 811-4111. The show runs seventy minutes with no intermission. Tickets are thirty-five dollars. To purchase tickets and see the schedule online go to https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/965681 Thru December 30.
Photos: Russ Rowland