Boys In The Band Showcases Gay Life in the 60s

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The Boys In The BandGod was I drunk last night. That’s what it feels like anyway.

For some reason I have odd memories of hanging out in 1968 with seven gay guys, a really dumb cowboy and a straight-laced turd in a tuxedo. I must have had a good time though, because I remember laughing a lot, but then I also remember feelings of remorse and sadness too. It felt a lot like I was watching the 70s movie The Boys In The Band without the quick flash of Frederick Combs’ naked butt as he takes a shower.

The Edge Productions, along with Sho Art, Spirit & Performance, held their opening night last night (June 23) for a local adaptation of The Boys In The Band, the famous LGBTQ+ play by American playwright Mart Crowley.

In his upper east side Manhattan apartment, Michael is throwing a birthday party for Harold, a self-declared 32-year-old, pock-marked, Jew fairy, complete with surprise gift – a half-naked “Cowboy”. As the evening wears on, fueled by drugs and alcohol, bitter, unresolved resentments among the guests come to light when a telephone game of Truth goes terribly wrong. It’s full of emotion and plenty of “icks”.

This influential work originally premiered in 1968 and was a long-running hit onstage, eventually getting made into a movie in 1970.

It was poignant and controversial in 1968 and oddly, still very poignant today. While the gay community has come a long way in those 50 odd-years, the play made it obvious that there’s still a long way to go. Even some of the actors were a little cautious with the intimate scenes and something as simple as a kiss came across as a pivotal moment – which in the situation of a party of gay men inside the home of a gay man, seems unrealistic and errs on the side of caution for the sake of the audience.

Director Miriam Goldstein collected a great cast for this production, led by a very talented Brendan Kinnon, who drove the audience through a wide-range of emotions, leading up to Michael’s climatic breakdown.

The entire cast each had their own “ick” moment and stayed true to the movie version quite well. Aaron Bergeron was a great Donald, Sam Biskey was solid as the bi character Hank, while Jamar Adams-Thompson not only looked like Reuben Greene from the film, but he also gave Bernard a similar feel to Greene’s. Additionally, Isaiah Kolundzic entered the set as the Harold, giving off an extremely memorable laugh to close the first act. The vulnerabilities of Health Camlis (Larry) and Aaron Hrastovec (Alan) were played out well and Ryan Marrin (Cowboy) was the perfect toy for Harold’s birthday. Although it’s hard to pick a standout in such a great ensemble, Darius Rathe was delightful as Emory, the most flaming of the characters. He bounced around the set with a joyous glow and brought the audience with him when he got picked on.

The Boys In The Band continues nightly until July 1 at The Atelier Virginianne on Drouillard. Tickets are $25 or $20 for students and seniors. $1 from every ticket sold will be donated to Windsor Pride Community. For more information, visit www.theedgeproductions.ca.