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The Last Sunday in June

a Comedy/Drama
CATEGORY : COMEDY DRAMA
by Jonathan Tolins

COMPANY : Actor's Express [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Actor's Express [WEBSITE]
ID# 1291

SHOWING : May 18, 2006 - July 01, 2006

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Regional premiere. Tom and Michael, a couple of seven years, invite a group of friends to watch New York's Gay Pride Parade from the window of their Greenwich Village apartment. When they discover that one of their own has decided to trade in his rainbow flag for a wedding ring, all the men confront the ever changing notions of love, pride, and the power of sexual identity. The New York Times proclaimed it the "next generation" of gay theatre.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Freddie Ashley
Props Master Elisabeth Cooper
Costume Designer Jamie Bullins
Susan Rachel Craw
Tom Cary Donaldson
James Adam Fristoe
Brad Hunter Hanger
Charles Bill Murphey
Michael Matthew Myers
Joe Chris Brandon Skinner
Joe chris skinner
Stage Manager Anne Stainback
Scott Jacob Wood
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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Roles and Judges
by Dedalus
Friday, July 7, 2006
4.0
If I were a writer who went to plays to judge them, I would have to be very harsh with Jonathan Tolins’ “The Last Sunday in June.” It is, beyond question, a “been there, seen that” story filled with uncomfortable stereotypes and self-reverential attempts to justify cliches. But, I go to plays because I love them. And I loved this one. And, once one leaves one’s judge’s robes at home, it’s easy to find that this play makes some profound observations about roles and about judges that are unique and praiseworthy.

Yes, it is “The Boys in the Band” updated for an “out-of-the-closet” milieu. Yes, it is filled with surface stereotypes and behaviors and self-hating characters. The difference here is that the “stereotypes” are “roles” some of the characters have embraced. The self-referential jokes (“If this were a ‘gay play’ …) grow tired only if you’ve never known a gay who considers his entire life an exercise in theatricality (anyone?). And the self-hatred comes not because of society’s marginalization of homosexuality (though that painful truth hangs over the proceedings like a shroud), but because of the disconnect between what the characters want and what is expected of them as gay men. And that difference makes all the difference in the world.

After all, which of us hasn’t chafed when who we are is odds with what’s expected of us in our various “roles?” As an example, several years back, I exchanged a series of letters with an editor of “Free Inquiry” magazine, who, basically, accused me of “giving in to assimilation” and “needing my consciousness raised” because I’m an atheist who celebrates Christmas. That’s another discussion, but I believe you can see my point.

“Last Sunday” takes this disconnect to an almost absurd extreme. The proposed marriage between James and Susan (Adam Fristoe and Rachel Craw are marvelous in the parts, by the way, as are the rest of the cast) should be a disaster, by all definitions of the word. Yet, strangely, it may work simply because it meets the needs (and wants) of the characters.

Oh yes, that “meets the needs” leitmotif keeps popping up, as bona fide sentiment, as ironic comment, as cynical rant, and as specious accusation throughout. The characters are all blind to the fact that what they judge as someone elses’ needs ain’t necessarily so, and what their own needs are can be in conflict with what their partners’ needs are. Why is it that judges’ robes usually come with blinders attached?

The “stereotypes” all have something which stands them on their head, which in fact, make it obvious that the “roles” the characters embrace are indeed stereotypes -- the AIDS specter which makes the most flamboyant character feel like he’s “back in the closet,” the supposedly happy couple whose idea of commitment involves no commitment whatsoever, the older “been-there” veteran of Stonewall who laughs at his own “you have it so easy” diatribe, the youngest man who relishes everything about the roles he’s only now exploring (or, more accurately, relishes the “newness” of them in his life). If you were wont to judge, it’s easy to dismiss them all. If you are wont to engage, you see all the wonderful contradictions and ambivalencies that judge-blinders obscure.

I encourage you to pull out the AJC and Creative Loafing archives and read the reviews of Wendell Brock and Curt Holman. This, more than anything I say, will show you which writer goes to the theater to judge, and which goes to engage.

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)







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