Downright dizzying. That’s what The Twentieth-Century Way – a production by The Theatre @ Boston Court and now part of Fringe Festival NYC at The Players Theatre comes across as. Written by Tom Jacobson and directed by Michael Michetti it is an intriguing, puzzling and challenging experience in theatrics.
Two actors are auditioning for a movie in Hollywood circa 1914. They are to be hired by the Police Department – as actors – to entrap homosexuals for “social vagrancy” in public rest rooms and Private Clubs in Long Beach.
Warren (Robert Mammana) is ruggedly handsome while Brown (Will Bradley) is pretty. Warren is an actor in the style of the grand manner – outwardly theatrical while Brown is more method – inwardly finding his character. Or characters in this case. As both actors are called upon to play a variety of parts. Often with split second timing to change a hat or add a cane or a flower in the lapel. With accents to match. It is a mind boggling tour de force on both actor’s parts. They are simply magnificent.
The play is another story. Who is auditioning for whom? Is one of them gay or both? Will they regret the fifteen dollars a head they receive for each degenerate arrested? Will they never stop arguing over their individualistic choice of acting styles? Are they afraid to reveal who they really are? Is this the role of an actor? So many questions with so few answers.
Directed with precision the two actors never stop rattling off their staccato dialogue and changing of accents and characters. It does become a bit wearisome and the story of entrapment gets lost within all the improvisational games being played out by them.
The invention of the zipper it seems was one of the reasons that started homosexuals gathering in places for easy and quick fellatio and when cornered by a cop could hasten their getaway. Because of this horrible true story laws were passed making it a criminal offence to expose and play ruining many a person’s career and life.
It’s an important but little known piece of gay history which is performed to the hilt by Messrs Bradley and Mammana. Baring both their talent and their bodies for a good theatrical albeit confusing thrill ride.
www.bostoncourt.org PHOTO: Ed Krieger