Although a bit of a throwback, I Could Say More paints a clever portrait of love, lust and friendship.
By Joel Benjamin
Just when most gay-oriented playwrights have moved on from the heavy duty breast beating of Mart Crowley’s Boys in the Band, Chuck Blasius’ I Could Say More at the Hudson Guild brings back the self-hating, sturm und drang in a teacup of that iconic drama. As in that 1968 work, Blasius’ characters are more or less trapped together, this time in a summer house on Long Island which has been rented by a newly married couple Carl (Mr. Blasius) and Drew (Brett Douglas). Carl is a bitchy and clearly unhappy man, a writer who may be at the beginning of a long slide down, his emotions consumed by an obsession with his husband’s brother, Phil (Grant James Varjas). Since philandering Phil also has a husband and doesn’t think of Carl “that way,” this is an obsession that is doomed to fail.
Also in the house are Jason (Brandon Smalls), Carl and Drew’s adopted son; hunky Dyson (Frank Delessio), Phil’s current bed partner; Skip (Keith McDermott) an aesthetic, yoga-practicing gay man married to Rakel (Monique Vukovic) who is dying of cancer; plus Lila (Kate Hodge), a blousy, boozy friend who has brought her new boyfriend, the totally straight—and married—Joe (Robert Gomez, perfectly cast) into the emotional sink hole that this bland, comfortable house will become. Joe is a bit put off and then bemused by all the overbearingly gay bitchery.
There isn’t much of a plot in I Could Say More, just a series of well written conversations that reveal a great deal about each character. Four of the five gay characters are self-involved and egotistical, the kind of people who can’t see beyond their own superficial tsoris. Only Skip, because of his long and caring relationship with his wife Rakel comes across as having any real depth. Skip is into Yoga and serenity and is clearly vacationing in the wrong beach house. Despite being married, he hasn’t abstained from sex with men, but honors Rakel’s feelings, never rubbing it in her face. To be fair, Drew does manage to pull himself together and take charge of his life and that of his son Jason after being emotionally bashed and abandoned by Carl. Rakel, her head wrapped in a turban to hide her baldness, turns out to be the calm center of the house even though she is actually suffering the most. She speaks in a childlike voice, colored by an unidentified European accent and is the closest thing to an angel that a human can be.
Joe and Rakel wind up tending to poor Jason’s needs better than Carl and Drew, going for walks and playing old fashioned board games while Carl, in particular, bitches and moans and orders everyone else around. Dyson, after having sex with Phil—which Carl unfortunately overhears—steals Drew’s car to go off for a fling at a local gay bar.
I Could Say More does capture well this small community of friends and acquaintances in all its tiniest details, from the drunken, vulgarities of Lila, who always seems to offend someone, to the adolescent.
This is, however, not Chekhov and at well over two hours, I Could Say More is too long and meandering, emphasizing the arbitrary diversity of the characters that Mr. Blasius has thrown together. That the nine actors, directed by Mr. Blasius, make the characters interesting and three dimensional is to their credit. Mr. Blasius overplays the nastiness and Mr. Douglas sometimes disappears amongst the more colorful characters, but the others come across as real.
The set by Clifton Chadick evokes the kind of comfortable, not top of the line, piece of real estate in which generations of playwrights have set their plays and Esther Colt Coats’ costumes show true understanding of each character’s idiosyncracies.
I Could Say More should have said more about what drives these characters instead of relying on so many clichés, but it is literate, at times funny, but never quite revelatory.
I Could Say More (through January 19, 2014)
Hudson Guild Theatre
441 West 26th St. (between 9th & 10th Aves.)
New York, NY
Tickets: 866-811-4111 or www.othersideproductions.org
Running Time: 2 Hours 20 minutes with one intermission