Fragmented. Contrived. A gay take on Our Town. THE BUS by James Lantz has pulled up for a short run through Oct 30th at 59E59 Theater C which might be mistaken for a prop closet and not a space to perform plays. Especially one with six characters that are so close as to make you feel extremely uncomfortable. Which might be the point.
Two gay teenage boys Jordan – who has only one thing on his hormonally charged mind (the adorable Bryan Fitzgerald who has great natural instincts as an actor) and the quirky Ian (Will Roland – reminiscent of a young John Ritter) sneak off nightly or whenever they can to kiss and have sleeping bag sex in an abandoned bus that has been on Ian’s dad’s property for 15 years.
His angry dad, Harry (Travis Mitchell) runs the local Texaco gas station along with Sloat (Robert Nuner) a drinker and a plot point. Harry is divorced from his ultra religious wife Sarah (Kerry McGann) who is in ultra denial about her son Ian. With parents like these it’s easy to see why Ian needs to escape.
It is only now that Harry wants the bus removed. We find out the real reason, far into the 85 minute saga – which might have made for a more interesting play. The Golden Rule Church – of which they have many – objects as it has served as its landmark all these years. Lawyers are brought it, the gas station is boycotted and then matters get explosively out of hand.
Jordan’s young sister – The Little Girl (an amazing Julia Lawler) acts as stage manager, I mean narrator in this Our Town like telling of the tale of the two teenage lovers where she sets up the situations and becomes the voice of many characters – all successfully. She knows her brothers “secret” as Jordan has spilled the beans to her and he is not afraid. Ian is. Although no one bullies them ever, Ian is simply afraid of being found out.
There are too many spoilers here to go into. And most don’t make much sense anyway.
Director John Simpkins does a fine job considering the script and the space. The simple set by Michael Schweikardt does its job well and the original music by Michael Shaieb is superb as are the atmospheric sound effects.
It is only in the last twenty minutes that the story starts to take hold and you begin to care about the two boys. But it’s a little too late to make you want to jump on board The Bus and go along for the ride.
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