GROUP: Liam's Sofa Cushion Fortress
ATTENDED: Fri., Sept. 6, 7 p.m.
CLOSES: Sat., Sept. 14
BRIEF SELF-DESCRIPTION: "Playwright Joe Orton confronts Beatles manager Brian Epstein late at night in a Jewish cemetery."
WE THINK: Friel's incisive script builds on an intriguing what-if: not-so-closeted bad boy Orton (Doug Greene) and very closeted Epstein (Bob Steinman) certainly met when Orton wrote his never-produced Beatles movie, so were they friends, maybe even lovers? Were their tragic deaths somehow related? In Traveling Light, they clash in a moonlit cemetery (set by Kevin Jordan, lighting by Andrew Cowles), and the adversaries — Epstein had just rejected Orton's lurid work as "unsuitable" for "my boys" — soon realize they have much in common.
Friel and director Liam Castellan turn the play's farcical absurdities, including the intrusions by two cops (Kyra Baker, Terence Gleeson) and the boys' trading clothes (Epstein's tailored Italian suit for Orton's leather jacket and jeans), into affecting moments of discovery. As in Orton's plays, the silly events are meaningful, and vice-versa.
Baker's sincere performance reveals the challenges of women invading the man's world of police work, an effective parallel for the struggles of closeted gay men. The world was changing fast in 1967 for women and homosexuals, and establishment men (as represented by Gleeson's hilarious yet brutal dictionary-quoting constable), feeling threatened, lashed out. These relationships may never have happened, but Traveling Light makes them feel real.
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