BWW Review: YOU'LL CATCH FLIES at New Conservatory Theatre Center
You'll Catch Flies
Written by Ryan Fogarty
Directed by Tom Bruett
New Conservatory Theatre Center
A fun party among best friends takes a decidedly dark turn in the World Premiere of Ryan Fogarty's cautionary tale of the deleterious effects of gossip, judgement and miscommunications. Based on a series of real-life encounters, Fogarty presents a nightmare orgy of sniping, back-stabbing and behavior most decidedly un-friendly. While my generation had The Broken Hearts Club and Longtime Companion, You'll Catch Flies feels like a millennial version of 1968's Boys in the Band. Playing to a young demographic, this play, like its predecessors, should scare the bejesus out of gays by representing an unapologetic vision of the worst of human nature.
Five friends gather for a kiki, a gathering of friends for the purpose of gossiping, chit-chat with plenty on booze and pot. Fogarty spreads the gay demographic broadly; there's J (Chris Steele), the hopelessly single romantic, Marcos (Vaho), the smoldering raven haired Latino, Dev (Devon Marra), the flamboyant, sharp-tongued queen and his lover Smitty, a player in his newly opened relationship and a photographer.
The first act establishes the relationships between these besties which includes slut-shaming, plenty of judgement and gossip. The banter is quick, sharp and anything is fair game. Much is made of Marcos' late coming out, his move to Spain and his new boyfriend. Years earlier, J had drunkenly confessed his love for Marcos which adds to the flaming from their friends. Trouble pops up between the two lovers when Smitty shows off suggestive pics of other men on his phone.
J brings up the subject of their mutual friend Marty who recently found his biological father including a brother that he's now befriended. This becomes an obsessive topic, perhaps to deflect attention from their own baggage. The friends think there's something more going on between the brothers, something incestuous. They decide wisely to capture some proof on Smitty's cell phone.
The second act finds the sacrificial lambs being thrown to the slaughter. Marty (Robert Kittler) and Cory (Max Seijas) arrive and things get awkward fast. Every attempt is made to elicit the 'truth' from the two but to no avail. When that fails, the brothers must be isolated to catch them in the act of something more than just two guys who are happy to have found each other.
J and Marcos hit the balcony and their passion is consummated. Smitty and Dev make one of their numerous forays to the store to buy more alcohol and vaping cartridges. Nothing happens between Marty and Cory, but their friend's deception is exposed to the brother's horror. The evening is a giant bust with no upside or moral epiphanies to assuage the nastiness of these people.
Fogarty knows his demographic well, adding plenty of references to contemporary social media and youthful references. The ensemble acting is strong throughout with J being the most sympathetic character other than the innocent brothers. Every decade of young gays may have experienced the tableau presented here and as a cautionary tale, it makes it points. That I found these people reprehensible speaks to the strength of Fogarty's writing.
You'll Catch Flies continues through February 23, 2020 at New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco. Tickets available at www.nctcsf.org or by calling (415) 861-8972.
Photos by Lois Tema