“There was a different set of rules for me than with the other actors,” Sinoway told me recently in Chelsea. “I feel like he was a lot harder on me. He knows all my tricks as an actor and all the bullsh*t I do.”
Ultimately, that intimacy seemed to benefit the production: The Waiting Game was named one of “5 LGBTQ Shows to See” by Huffington Post when it ran at Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Another — and perhaps unexpected — benefit of having Nathan around was that Sinoway had a built-in support system on set. Once, when Sinoway was feeling overwhelmed during a tech rehearsal of Manifesto — a previous collaboration of theirs — Nathan put his hand on Sinoway’s shoulder and just let him cry.
And although there were moments when Sinoway had to set boundaries (“We were taking an Uber home, and he was giving me notes, and I was like … No”), Sinoway’s connection with Nathan took him to great heights.
“As difficult as it might have been for me in the moment thinking, ‘You’re being so hard on me,’ the result was always worth it.”
Sinoway, who sometimes gets recognized for his role in LOGO’s Hunting Season, invested a lot of himself in Paolo, his character in The Waiting Game.
In the play, Paolo writes a poem for his partner, Sam — who is in a coma from a heroin overdose — as a way to seek closure. Sinoway prepared for this touching moment every night by writing an actual poem before each performance.
“I find it really moving that Paolo tries to write to his partner, who is a poet,” Sinoway said. “There’s something very romantic about trying to say goodbye to your partner in their language. So I basically tried to think, ‘Well, what would that be like for me?’ Sometimes it didn’t even take the form of a poem. It was just a letter.”
While Sinoway never showed off his poems — which he was a little embarrassed of — he did wonder if his stage manager had ever taken a peek. “I never asked, ‘Have you looked?’, cause I didn’t really want to know the answer, and she probably didn’t want to give me that answer.”
But The Waiting Game’s queer storylines proved to be too explicit for one audience member.
“Sam’s lover Geoff and Paolo fully made out at one point, and I told him, ‘Fuck me,’ and the second we made out, this man [at an Edinburgh performance] just got up and walked out,” said Sinoway. “And I thought, couldn’t he have waited a few minutes to leave, and just pretended like it was because of something else? But I brought it up with my therapist recently, cause I was talking about the play, and my therapist told me, ‘Yeah, he wanted everyone to know why he was leaving.’”
Still, plenty of straight viewers who peered through The Waiting Game’s window into queer life left enlightened, rather than offended. Perhaps that was because the play tackled some difficult and universal questions.
“Putting myself in the mind of Sam, who was in the coma,” explained Sinoway, “This show made me think, ‘Can you hear when people are talking to you in a coma? Would you want them to pull the plug? Would you want them to think you might wake up?’”
The Waiting Game wrapped up its final performances at 59E59 last weekend, but Sinoway does have plans to produce Manifesto again, though for Off-Broadway. If anything, he’s looking forward to working with his partner Nathan again.
“Each year that you add onto a long-term relationship kind of equips you more to play people with complicated romantic histories,” he told me. “Even just having one more year of understanding of another human being, or one more year of fighting … It’s still one more year of experience that you can draw from when creating a character.”
Plus, a few Uber notes sessions never hurt anybody.