As the Estelle Getty character, Sophia, from “The Golden Girls” would say – “Picture this” – Oscar Wilde has an idea to turn Sex and the City homosexual – giving those girls a good run for their money; Paul Rudnick is in hiding, worried that a new gay friendly playwright has something new and funnier to say and the creators of Friends are eating their hearts out for not re-thinking Friends as a gay for all comedy.
Jason Mitchell has beaten them all to the punch in his fast paced, fiercely funny comedy The Boys Upstairs – now at The SoHo Playhouse. When word of this extremely funny and well acted five character comedy gets out – and I’m doing my best to do just that – The Boys Upstairs will certainly have legs – and torsos and hairy chests and abs and enough witty one liners and caustic zingers to be remembered and quoted for quite some time.
This is not The Boys in the Band. This is your new, out in the open for all to see and listen to gay guys living and trying to find sex and love and happiness in Hell’s Kitchen in the living room of Josh (Nic Cory) the Jewish would be writer and his ex-college lover and now roommate Seth (Joel T. Bauer) a teacher who is involved with an older – gasp! 30ish Matt (David A. Rudd). Flamboyant fashionista Ashley (Kristen-Alexzander Griffith) has just arrived from Paris – making a star entrance – when the ever so attractive boy downstairs, Eric (Josh Segarra) – who has recently moved in and is straight they all assume, knocks on their door to borrow a tool which really gets the ball rolling.
In a series of quick scenes which have sit-com titles, we get to know these guys right down to their designer undies. Josh acts as narrator asking the many questions that these scenes answer. Or attempt to answer. The sofa-bed is opened and closed so may times that it resembles a pop up book with various bodies in various stages of undress and in various very funny positions.
Matthew Corozine has directed with an eye for detail and has elicited honest and wonderfully heartfelt performances from his entire cast. In addition to playing Matt, David Rudd – who was in my favorite Fringe play last year – The Fabulous Kane Sisters in Box Office Poison – is also asked to be all of their boyfriends, dates and tricks (he is especially on top of his game with Gabie – a true theatre queen whose entire dialogue comes from lyrics of show tunes).
Somehow all these one nighters look and sound alike – on purpose. Nothing can take the place of a monogamous relationship here. You just have to find the right one to be monogamous with. No mean feat in this day and age. But playwright Mitchell remains optimistic.
Ashley (Kristen-Alexander Griffith) all but steals the show with his terrific comic timing and delivery. He is helped out by some of the cleverest costuming (Justin Couchara) on a budget you will find. Ditto for his attractive set.
The Boys Upstairs is ultimately about friendship. Its ups and downs and what it truly means to have a friend. All told with great humor and warmth. Josh has entered a writing contest with an idea that some think is terrific and that some think has a limited life and a limited audience. Jason Mitchell should have no such worries about his fantastic new comedy, The Boys Upstairs. With a little editing and some fine tuning it will be seen by many for quite a while.