Celebrating Pride? The festivities and celebrations are abundant throughout New York City. As part of our global society, the LGBTQ community has come a long way since the riots at Stonewall in 1969. While many revelers have purchased their party tickets and scheduled their agendas for the big parade, I suggest that you also take in a little culture. Just a sashay away from Broadway’s Kinky Boots is AFTERGLOW, now playing at The Davenport Theatre (354 West 45th Street).
AFTERGLOW is a raw and risqué, two-act play that delves into the emotional, intellectual, and physical connections between three men and the broader implications within their relationships. Josh and Alex are a married couple in their late 20s. They have everything going for them, including the anticipation of a child — the future looks bright — they are established in their careers, good health and the trappings of youth: muscles, sex appeal and strong libidos. Life is good and their marriage is open — open to explore their sexuality with others as long as certain rules apply. Enter Darius.
Playwright S. Asher Gelman brings to the stage the very personal story of a threesome with heart, grit and a non-gratuitous exploration of the complex theme. The journey of the trio goes from intimacy and fun to love, and then the roller coaster runs off the rails when jealousy, trust, loyalty and commitment collide.
Kudos to the cast: Brandon Haagenson as Josh brings a passion and believability to the role with a booming voice. Alex played by Robbie Simpson also offers a class act on husbandry and the authenticity of a man scorned. Patrick Reilly portrays Darius with a heartfelt if not waiflike sensibility and likeability. I also give credit to S. Asher Gelman for approaching a topic that many dare not speak its name.
While the first act runs over an hour and is intriguingly constructed with solid writing, the second act fumbles a bit with too many repetitive topics and dramatics bordering on melodramas seen on Netflix or cable TV. However, the actors, staging and even the lighting design save the production with the escapism of theater magic and a reticent dignity that every audience member desires. Running 2:10 minutes with one intermission, AFTERGLOW could be told in 90 minutes with greater impact.
Written and Directed by S. Asher Gelman (above). The creative team includes Ann Beyersdorfer (Scenic Designer), Fabian Aguilar (Costume Designer), Jamie Roderick (Lighting Designer), Alex Dietz-Kest (Sound Designer), Mike Ross (Dramaturg), Nina Kauffman (Assistant Director), Michelle Tewksbury (Production Stage Manager), Laura Malseed (Assistant Stage Manager), Evan Bernardin (General Manager), and Gwynne Richmond (Company Manager).
This is not just another gay play or limited exclusively for the LGBTQ community but a probing story for all sexes.
Note: There is an age restriction due to strong language and nudity.
Photos by P.K. Greenfield and Mati Bardosh Gelman
Opens on Friday, June 23, 2017
The Loft at the Davenport Theatre
354 West 45th Street
New York, NY