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Sunday, Oct. 20, Noon
JCC Theatre, $9
David Schmader’s approach to solo performance in Straight — a rudimentary videotaping of Schmader in front of a small theatre audience — sits at a strange intersection of stand-up comedy and a more traditional theatrical style. His scripting isn’t geared toward the guffaws of stand-up, nor does it allow for the improvisational and conversational approaches that give the best stand-up an energizing sense of in-the-moment spontaneity. But for all of his devotion to the theatrical, Schmader also isn’t creating and performing characters in the traditional sense.
Instead, he’s reciting narrative, for a hundred minutes, no less, about his real-life experiences with conversion therapy, ostensibly undertaken as a journalistic exercise to reveal how ridiculous such efforts to "cure" homosexuality are. (Big news there, huh?) What he’s really doing, though, if you grow comfortable with his acting-comedy hybrid, isn’t about conversion-bashing as much as it’s about providing a glimpse into the psyche of a gay man whose confidence and self-acceptance are not impervious to doubts about how normal and happy life is, or can be, for gay people in a straight-dominated world.
Now, that’s not exactly knee-slapping stuff, and I’m not convinced that Schmader intends as much pathos as the piece conveys. But he does hold your attention well enough and send you away with some interesting points to ponder. — JP