BWW Reviews: The City Theatre Presents Moving and Memorable LOVE! VALOUR! COMPASSION!

LOVE! VALOUR! COMPASSION! is a play by Terrence McNally. Opening Off-Broadway in 1994 and transferring to Broadway in 1995, it won the Tony Award for Best Play and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play.

Set at a lakeside summer vacation house in Dutchess County, two hours north of New York City, it tells the story of eight gay friends spending the three major holiday weekends of one summer together. The house belongs to Gregory (Kirk Kelso), a successful New York choreographer approaching middle age, who fears he is losing his creativity; and his twenty-something blind lover, Bobby (Ryan Wilson). Each guest at their house is connected to Gregory's work in one way or another. Arthur (Marco Bazan) and partner Perry (Dax Dobbs) are business consultants; John (Scott Poppaw), a jaded and bitter Englishman, is his dance accompanist; and musical theater fan Buzz (Rick Felkins) is a costume designer. John's summer lover, Ramon (Ty McLeod), and John's twin brother James (Scott Poppaw) are outsiders brought into this circle of friends. What ensues includes flirtations, infidelities, and searing questions about life and death in the age of AIDS.

As the play unfolds, McNally's characters talk directly to the audience, often commenting on what the other characters are saying. They provide facts these characters couldn't possibly know at the time of their revelation as well as discussing the future in a way that illuminates the past. The result is a rich theatrical experience about characters of surprising dimension.

City Theatre has mounted a lovely, funny, touching production of McNally's AIDS play. Director Matthew Burnett has pulled some remarkable performances out of this cast. I found his staging to be crisp and his pacing to be excellent. The evening flew by and was thoroughly entertaining. While this production does back away from the nudity written in the script, I give kudos to Kelso for being the sole company member to go for it.

This production features a very strong cast that handles the material with considerable style and class. Kirk Kelso, as Gregory, delivers his finest performance to date (and considering the quality of his work in general, that is saying something.) Scott Poppaw, as twins John and James, is superb and moving in both clearly defined roles. Rick Felkins, as Buzz, is exceptional - showing both Buzz's stereotypical flaming queen side as well as his character's pain and passion. Ryan Wilson delivers a sweet and touching performance and does a great job with the blindness and comes across as totally believable. I also enjoyed the performances of Dax Dobbs and Marco Bazan as Perry and Arthur. They had a chemistry together that made their long time relationship ring completely true.

LOVE! VALOUR! COMPASSION! is written, directed and performed with theatrical skill making the evening as entertaining as it is moving.

LOVE! VALOUR! COMPASSION! by Terrence McNally.

Running Time: Three Hours and Fifteen minutes with two intermissions.

LOVE! VALOUR! COMPASSION!, produced by City Theatre (3823 Airport Blvd. Suite D., Austin, Tx.)

July 31 - Aug. 23, 2015. Contains brief nudity.

Thursdays - Saturdays 8:00 p.m., Sundays 5:30 pm.

General Seating $15. Guaranteed Front/2nd Row Reserved $25.

Students $12. Thursday all seats $10. Group discounts are available.

Reservations 512-524-2870 or info@citytheatreaustin.org



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From This Author Frank Benge