Old-fashioned and lightweight, playwright Michael MacKenzie Wills’ engaging gay sex farce is the sort of entertainment one might enjoy during June to celebrate Pride or to pleasantly pass a summer evening at a theater on Fire Island where it takes place. Minimal male nudity, double entendres, raunchiness, affectionately stereotypical characters, musical theater references, particularly to Stephen Sondheim, and zany complications abound. It manages to sustain its 70 minutes chiefly due to the exuberant antics of its winning cast who joyously embrace the piece’s exaggerated tone.
Middle-aged Tim Bailey paddles around his old Pines beach house in a bathrobe and flip flops. He has quit his executive job and his glumness over recently breaking up with his partner of 18 years is lessened by Bobby, his cute new sexually insatiable boyfriend who is a nurse and who is about to turn 23. Also in residence is Tim’s feisty 17-year-old adopted daughter Tina and Michel, the wily young French-Canadian house boy who oversees domestic affairs while scantily clad.
It’s late September and therefore off-season, so the group is isolated. As in The Tempest, a ferocious storm upends everything. A yacht sinks and its passengers seek shelter at Tim’s house. They are his former boss, the Fortune 500 tycoon Harold D’Monte; his boyfriend and Tim’s ex, psychologist Mark Morgan; Harold’s 17-year-old straight son Harrison Luke; and the ship’s young long-haired stoner, deckhand Jake Daniels. There’s nonstop sex and hilarity among the castaways.
Mr. Wills’ demonstrates a facility for dramatic writing with his snappy dialogue and fast-paced scenario that inspires laughter and also incites thoughtfulness. Amidst the merriment are keen insights into the gay male experience including aging, relationships and promiscuity. Stormy Weather, though, is more Ray Cooney than Tony Kushner.
Wonderfully combining frazzled seriousness with comedic force is Tim Burke as Tim. The proverbially baby-faced Dillion Everett is perfectly impish as Bobby and his perpetual uttering of “Daddy” is wickedly bawdy. Carrying on to the hilt in an overdone French accent is the lithe, animated and beaming Noah Pyzik who is a riotous houseboy. Charles Manning delightfully unravels as the pompous therapist. Michael O. Tubman’s blustery CEO is comically solid. Long-haired, wiry and with a terrific smile, Zach Reyes is appropriately spacey as the toked-up sensual deckhand. Kristina Dizon and Robert Bradvica both offer charming turns as the wacky teenagers and their intense romantic chemistry adds to the mirth.
Director Jacob Demlow’s energetic staging realizes all of the play’s physical and verbal humor and traces of depth with flair. Mr. Demlow’s adept sound design richly renders the musical interludes, crashing effects and expositional radio broadcasts. Lighting designer Seth Betzler achieves a crisp dimension with his varying hues. Wills’ scenic design of a large white modular couch and a white modular fluffy chair simply and aesthetically convey the locale and cleverly provides camouflage for a sex scene. His sensationally kooky costume design ranges from strategically skimpy to realistic and to Gilligan’s Island-style cartoonishness.
Good-natured, mildly erotic and often amusing, Stormy Weather is an accomplished diversion. It’s presented as part of the first Rave Theater Festival which is showcasing a diverse roster of 20 plays, musicals, family-friendly shows, and cross-disciplinary projects by emerging artists under the artistic directorship of notable producer Ken Davenport.
Stormy Weather (through August 25, 2019)
Rave Theater Festival
Rabbit Hole Theatricks Inc. in association with Visceral Entertainment
Teatro Latea Theater at The Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, 107 Suffolk Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, visit http://www.ravetheaterfestival.com
Running time: 70 minutes without an intermission