A Review

The Whole Parade

By R. J. Donovan

Five men gather in a Christopher Street apartment to watch the New York City Gay Pride Parade on the street below. Is this Just Another Gay Play. No. But that’s what playwright Jonathan Tolins originally thought of calling it in 2001.

After some revisions and a successful off-Broadway run, “The Last Sunday in June” is receiving its New England premiere from SpeakEasy Stage Company at the Boston Center for the Arts. The sharp, reflective comedy runs through July 3.

The actions takes place in the Greenwich Village apartment of attorney Tom (Tom Lawlor, front left) and school teacher Michael (Trey Burvant, front right), partners for seven years, about to leave the city and head towards the suburban serenity of Nyack. The Parade is passing under their window, and although Michael just wants to go to Pottery Barn and buy lamps, Tom winds up inviting an assortment of friends and lovers over to enjoy what will be their last Pride Parade in the city.

He gets more than he bargains for.

“The Last Sunday In June” may appear to be in the tradition of all those “other gay plays” from “Boys in The Band” to “Love! Valour! Compassion!” and “Party,” except that it completely spoofs the genre by constantly commenting on itself. And that’s what makes it all great fun.

The characters have been described as being direct from Central Casting, and happily, it’s true. There’s Brad (Will McGarrahan, top right), entertainment writer and HIV survivor who fires darts of bitchy humor. Joe (Jeremy Johnson, top middle), a fresh out of the closet actor who’s celebrating Pride Week to the hilt. And Charles (Larry Coen, top left) the 50-ish opera loving fuss-pot who’s been through all the marches and the protests. Things have changed during his time, and being gay has gone from the closet to Must-See-TV.

Under the direction of Scott Edmiston, the ensemble cast is a precise bunch. The first half of the intermission-less evening is light and funny, filled with topical references and sharp one-liners. The characters actually question what would happen next, if their party really were a gay play.

So into the fray comes James (Bill Mootos, right). Former lover of both Tom (and later Brad), he drops the bombshell that he’s marrying a woman. He’s tired of gay life, finds it all pretty shallow and admits that he doesn’t even do it well. The author of a failed gay novel, he’s not looking to become straight. But he just can’t hack the superficiality anymore.

The group is floored and sets out to convince him he should be who he is. A gay intervention, for lack of a better word, is led by Tom, who gets Susan (Tori Davis), the finance, to come to the apartment. They confront her, demanding to know what’s going on. In the course of the argument, she holds her own, and she and James ultimately leave to pursue life together.

What leaks out during all of this, however, is a surprising accusation of infidelity. Which snowballs, leaving the two most grounded characters to question their foundation -- and their future.

During the course of the night, most every cliché is dragged out and skewered from the truth game and the mandatory group dance number to the unexpected arrival of shirtless hunk (Tyler Hollinger) who shows up to gulp water. The fact that “The Last Sunday in June” constantly lampoons itself provides a nice wink to the audience -- everyone is in on the joke.

As Boston celebrates its own Gay Pride festivities, “The Last Sunday In June” completes the SpeakEasy season on both a witty and thoughtful note.

"Last Sunday In June" is at The Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont Street in Boston, through July 3. For information, call 617-426-ARTS.

Production Photos: Craig Bailey/CBE Photo

-- OnStage Boston



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