Paul Rudnick's “The New Century” is a politically incorrect compilation of works that describes and decry the excesses of modern gay life. It is a compilation, loosely tied together at the end, of four short plays showcasing gay culture from the perspectives of two mothers of gay children and one colorful flaming queen.
The first play, “Pride and Joy” has Annie Zannetti as the upper class, uptown, Jewess, Helene Nadler, mother of three gay children. Zannetti gives Helene such warm frankness that she manages, somehow, to chat tastefully about things like scatology as though she is describing a fun shopping spree at Bergdorfs.
Michael Hawke then takes the stage as the fabulous Mr. Charles, defender of Nelly fits, good taste and the old Flaming Gay Way in the play, “Mr. Charles, Currently of Palm Beach.” Hawke delivers hilarious one- liners as the host of a late night local cable TV show called “Too Gay." Mr. Charles covers every stereotype of gay culture including keeping a “ward” in the form of the young buff, Shane, charmingly played by Matt Hackman. This segment is irreverent and even provides gratuitous full frontal nudity.
“Crafty”, the third short, features Jacqueline Jones as Barbara Ellen Diggs, queen of cheesy crafts from Decatur, Illinois (remember crocheted poodle toilet paper roll cozies?). Jones nails this character. She is so convincing and the script is so expertly crafted she has the audience laughing at one moment and tearing up the next as she describes her various craft projects and the death of her gay son from AIDS. Jones is so good that she can believably say lines like: “His friends say I'm a Hoot. That means I can wear polyester without irony”.
The finale is a joining of all the characters in a maternity ward in a New York Hospital titled, “The New Century.” Here Rudnick offers some shallow ideas that dumb down the work on the whole. Despite this muddled ending the first three shorts make the show well worth the ticket price.
“The New Century” runs on selected dates through October 25th at the HaTTheatre. Tickets are $20.00 - $25.00. For more information go to www.rtriangle.org or call 804-346-8113.