BWW Review: STEVE at New Conservatory Theatre Center: Mid-life Crisis Is Examined With Wit And Drama
The sexual and emotional exploits of two Gen-Xer gay couples provide the laughs and drama in Mark Gerrard's high-brow soap opera Steve, a mid-life crisis tale chock full of witty theatre references and plenty of bed-hopping adventures. Those coupled, either happily or not, may see themselves in the characters presented. Us single guys may see it as a cautionary tale and run for the hills.
No doubt Steve is well written, with urbane dialogue suited for the upscale New York City characters and contains plenty (perhaps too many) of insider theatre references to delight theatre geeks everywhere. Director Becca Wolff keeps the pace of the conversations brisk reminiscent of the fast-paced comedies of Preston Sturges or George Cukor.
Steven, played with exquisite exasperation by Greg Ayers, is a middle-aged, tightly wound ex-theatre queen with a lawyer husband (named Stephen) and kid. We meet their friends; couple Brian and Matt and Steven's bestie female Carrie at a dinner party celebrating Steven's birthday. All does not go well as Steven discovers his husband has been sexting Brian.
What follows are the cascading effects of deceit, subterfuge, denial and human frailty. Stephen continues his hi-tech affair via texts and pics, humorously displayed on video screens that make the audience unwilling accomplices. Add to the mix waiter Esteban, an Argentine dancer, played by the easy-on-the-eye Vaho, who captures Steven's eye.
The acerbic Carrie, played excellently by Clove Galilee, is the centering element for Steven. Dying of cancer, she's his touchstone during the turbulence that swirls around him and provides one of the only stable but bittersweet plotlines. Daniel Redmond (Matt) and ShawnJ West (Brian) play a convincing couple who understand each other well and know their limits.
There's plenty going on in Steve, perhaps a little too many complications to deal with neatly. A trainer, also named Steve, is added as a love interest for Brian and Matt, and there's a lengthy phone scene between Stephen and his mother. What is Steve trying to say by presenting these two couples? Brian and Matt are in love for sure but need a third for added excitement. Steven and Stephen try and make a go of their relationship, hesitantly.
Growing older is tough and relationship choices, sometimes bad, are made. There's enough humor in Steve to balance out the unseemly choices that some of the characters make here.
Steve continues through March 31st at New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco. For information, contact www.nctcsf.org or call (415) 861-8972.
Photos by Lois Tema.