Review: ‘Homos’—Stellar Performances in a Questionable Play
By Miles Harter, Contributing Writer, December 14, 2016
Homos, or Everyone in America is the newest off-Broadway gay-themed play by Jordan Seavey. Focusing on the conflicts of an on-again/off-again relationship, the couple in question is played by two brilliant actors—Robin de Jesús and Michael Urie. I’ve been a fan of Mr. de Jesús since first seeing him in 2003 as a shy misfit gay teen in the movie musical Camp, and more recently garnering two Tony nominations (In the Heights, La Cage aux Folles). Michael Urie is best known for his stunning performances in the hilarious off-Broadway play Buyer and Cellar, as well as the offbeat TV series “Ugly Betty.”
According to the program, the play “jumps around in moments scattered through 2006-2011.” The disjointed “jumping around,” however, is often confusing and distracting. Some of the dialogue is sharp and witty, but it is difficult to properly appreciate both that while also figuring out exactly where we are in the timeline of the relationship. The two characters, named in the program only as “The Academic” and “The Writer,” live up to their designations—engaging in continuing witty banter and debate, including sly references to Joan Didion and Friendster. Despite the wonderful acting of Mr. de Jesús and Mr. Urie, and while the characters indeed may have these appropriate monikers, the lack of real names contributes to an uncomfortable sterility and creates distance with the audience; neither character becomes real or sympathetic, or more than just a caricature of academes or writers.
The rationale for the title of the play is unclear. “Homos” is typically a pejorative term, but there is no animus towards gays, except for a pivotal offstage brutal hate crime. One character obliquely refers to “everyone in America,” but the real focus is educated early 30-something gay men in New York, who reflect on cocaine, poppers, marriage equality, bullying, monogamy (and threeways), activism, The Boys in the Band, and Larry Kramer. While the broad appeal of the play is questionable, it did provide the opportunity to experience more stellar performances by Robin de Jesús and Michael Urie.
Homos, or Everyone in America, presented by the Labyrinth Theater Company at Bank Street Theatre. First preview: October 20, opened November 6 and closed December 11, 2016. By Jordan Seavey. Directed by Mike Donahue; scenic design by Dane Laffrey; lighting by Scott Zielinski. Cast: Aaron Costa Ganis, Robin de Jesús, Stacey Sargeant, and Michael Urie.
Cover: Michael Urie and Robin de Jesús; photo: Monique Carboni.