MOM THEATRE BLOGGER: STRAIGHT: Show Review by Robin Gorman Newman

straightBoy loves girl, and girl loves boy……college sweethearts for five years.  Boy also loves younger boy….dating for three months.  Girl meets younger boy who keeps silent about his relationship with her boyfriend.  All have a lot to lose if the truth comes out.

If playing it straight, literally, Ben and Emily are on the conventional path to marriage and kids.  Solid, responsible, confused, guilt-ridden, investment banker Ben, 26, however, is drawn to free-spirited college student Chris, and theirs is a relationship full of lust and spontaneity.

Grad student Emily spends much of her time discussing her lab project involving giving mice leukemia and researching a potential cure.  While not the life of the party, she is devoted to the sports loving Ben and is clearly a natural caretaker, always showing concern for his long hours at work (seemingly) and wanting to make sure he eats well — even letting herself into his apartment, bearing take out food.  When she proposes they take a leap and move in together, Ben aches at the notion of this commitment yet doesn’t want to break away.

The thought-provoking question posed here is whether or not a life as a gay man is something that Ben can embrace?  Is he able to live his truth, and to what end?  At what price does acceptance come?  And, how would society look upon his choice?

The play, by Scott Elmegreen and Drew Fornarola, is smart, with some super clever lines, and the cast is appealing.  Jake Epstein (excellent in Beautiful as Gerry Goffin), as Ben, gives a charged, multi-layered performance, gradually building upon emotion. Making his Off Broadway debut, Thomas E. Sullivan (who recently graduated NYU) as Chris, brings to mind Macaulay Culkin at his best, and this is a huge compliment.  Sullivan is an actor to watch.  He is so at ease and riveting here, and he nails all aspects of the role.  Jenna Gavigan as Emily, turns in an effective if not inspiring performance, but then, she is offered way less meaty material.

The 90 minutes (no intermission) piece is deftly directed by Andy Sandberg who keeps the actors moving about seamlessly, and treats the intimate moments with respect versus gratuitous nudity that you see in some shows.  Set design  – Ben’s apartment – by Charlie Corcoran –  is impressively detailed, and lighting by Grant Yeager contours the moods and transitions….and there are many moods exhibited.

STRAIGHT plays through May 8th at the Acorn at Theater Row, 410 West 42nd Street, NYC.  For tickets, phone 212-239-6200 or   Visit and

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