Can a gay valet find continued bliss with his employer after being stranded with him on a deserted island for five years (cavorting around like naked savages) and then returning, unexplained, to his wife and his New York townhouse? Complicating matters is that his employer’s socialite wife Daphane has just remarried after patiently waiting for him to be found.
This silly plot of “Lavender Shore” has been contrived by Lawson Caldwell to do some serious talking about what he truly wants to say about homosexuality circa 1936 or for that matter, today.
Mr. Caldwell has a worthwhile message to impart. He has a gay sensibility. And an incredible imagination – to come up with such a plot that enables him to have some extremely beautiful scenes between the two men in question – Gerald Tyler (Colin Pritchard) valet to Mr. Harrison Anderson (Markus Potter) who get to explore their secret sexuality with a kiss or two. However, some rewrites are in order.
Colin Pritchard is the character and actor who anchors this entire production. He is a true gentleman’s gentleman. A British butler one can only dream about. Patiently waiting in the background. Fondly but discreetly gazing on the man he loves. Patiently waiting to see if the outcome is as he desires. Mr. Pritchard is one of the main reasons to attend the Midtown Int’l Theatre Festival of which “Lavender Shore” is a participant. To discover new talent makes it all worth while. And with Mr. Pritchard we hit the jackpot.
There are others in the cast that are good but not up to the level of Mr. Pritchard. Markus Potter as the confused Harrison does very well indeed trying to come to terms with his admiration and affection for Gerald while trying to placate his still preening wife Daphane (Katie Yamulla) who has just said “I do” again to Thomas Darrow (a caught in the middle Patrick James Lynch) who was once involved with Gwendolyn (a ravishing and stylish Rachael Claire) who understands what is really going on.
As does friend of the family, confirmed bachelor Phillip Timmons (a sarcastic and all too stiff Marc Geller – I wish this fine actor and comic would simply relax) and a surprising treat of a maid Lucy (Alison K. Phillips). As the fussy uptight Aunty Charlotte who is determined not to have any scandal intrude, Colleen Kennedy has the right tone and the right look in her period costumes supplied by Susan Nester.
Lenny Leibowitz has carefully guided his cast through their paces in this very bare bones production – almost a staged reading. That wouldn’t matter at all if the play and the players were of the highest caliber. While enjoyable “Lavender Shore” misses the high water mark.
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