The metaphysical comedy In the Closet is set inside a closet — and not just figuratively. All four characters, men of varying ages, crowd into that hiding space with their own baggage and stories to share. The concept grew out of playwright Siegmund Fuchs’ desire to do something different with the traditional coming out story and “try to write one that would be interesting.”
The play, currently having its World Premiere courtesy the Rainbow Theatre Project, started out as a one-man show. “Those are really hard to write,” says Fuchs. “They are difficult to sell. Audiences just find them torturous. So I thought, ‘Why don’t I put a [few] people in a closet, and make the whole stage a closet, and just make it this weird, magical, metaphoric place.”
Though billed as a comedy, In the Closet finds room to explore serious topics, such as age discrimination, mid-life crises, even rape: One of the younger men struggling with coming out is a victim of sexual violence.
“The character in his twenties is raped,” says Fuchs. “And the lawyer who is prosecuting the rape case tells him that he is being too feminine on the stand and wants him to rein it in. So for the period of the rest of the trial, he goes back into the closet.”
During the day, Fuchs, who has written two other plays prior to In the Closet, practices Constitutional law for the civil division of the Department of Justice. While he has worked with victims of sexual abuse and has researched the issue, he is emphatic that In the Closet is not a memoir.
“In all of my works, I pull things from my past to give background to the characters,” says Fuchs, who identifies as a member of the LGBTQ community. “But my plays are not meant to be autobiographical at all.”
In the Closet runs through September 15 at DCAC, 2438 18th St. NW. Tickets are $35. Call 202-462-7833, or visit rainbowtheatreproject.org.