Sometimes society can feel like an airplane: We are all hurtling forward together, but we all sit alone. As Green (Sam B. Clark ’13) puts it during the opening monologue of “Lone Gay Male:” “The plane you’re on and the plane they’re on is not the same plane, is it?” These passionate moments of soliloquy that were interposed throughout “Lone Gay Male”—a show written and directed by Felix L. Cook ’13 that ran from October 18 to October 20 at the Loeb Ex—allowed the performance to convey intense messages and morals about the gay community of “Generation Z.” Through the story, the strength of the actors, the careful use of projection, and the soliloquies in between certain scenes are the heart of the play and communicated the intense and emotional themes.
Based on a true story, the play follows a student at Harvard and his four friends in their struggle to recover after he became the victim of a hate-crime right outside campus. The play was more a series of vignettes than a classic narrative: it moved from grungy Saturday night parties, to the mundane questions and answers of therapy, to conversations in the dhall about the ups and downs of relationships. Cook uses these moments to tear down the walls that separate the gay community from other groups. Through these snapshots of universal moments, the play communicates the idea that different communities of sexual orientation all have fundamental similarities. The fears, the laughs, and the moments of happiness and sadness all feel the same regardless of one’s self-definition.
The quality of the actors communicated this message—especially during the soliloquies. The strongest of the performances came from Clark, the tightly wound and emotionally suffocated best friend of main character and victim Red (Eli W. Pelton ’16). Clark’s monologue opened the show, and right from the start his talent shined. His facial expressions captured Green’s cynical and distraught character, who is always looking to hide his emotions from everyone. During the opening speech, the slight smile that was always at the corner of his lips and the sardonic eyebrows that were raised at all the right times brilliantly captured the emotions that were moving Green. Clark gave the impression of sitting down and talking with a close friend. His intense performance was complemented by Pelton’s. The therapy scenes were definitely Pelton’s forte. It was there that the ever-so-slight shaking of his fingers, the varying intonations of his voice, and the well placed, knowing smiles portrayed the hurt that was wracking Red in the aftermath of the attack. Pelton’s subtle moves contrasted with with Clark’s distinct style. The result was two completely different approaches for dealing with the pain and confusion of being gay in today’s society.
The use of projected images further ingrained the societal messages of “Lone Gay Male.” Two large screens on either side of the theater framed one larger screen that lay behind the stage. Through paintings of God, snippets of pornography, and news clips of prominent people in society making ignorant remarks concerning homosexuality, the projections gave a fullness and a depth to the performances and further strengthened the communication of the show’s morals. The projections also served to enhance the set. For example, when Red was at the dentist, the screen displayed dental x-ray images to convey the feeling of actually sitting in a medical office.
From the dark events of one Harvard student’s life has sprung a production that seeks to stretch our horizons concerning sexuality. How different really are communities of different sexual orientation? Can we reconcile society’s homophobia with our emphasis on diversity? The story, the acting, and the production of “Lone Gay Male” coalesced, and the show longs for a day where Clark and his character Green can say definitively that we are all on the same plane—together.