Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Last Sunday in June"

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note: entire contents copyright 2004 by Beverly Creasey

Gay Prize

Reviewed by Beverly Creasey

SpeakEasy Stage’s THE LAST SUNDAY IN JUNE will run beyond its title but you only have until July 3rd to see the funniest, sassiest, hippest show in town.

Jonathan Tolins wrote another smart, provocative play (called TWILIGHT OF THE GOLDS) which SpeakEasy did a few years ago, about homophobia and biological engineering but this one is aimed squarely for the funny bone. LAST SUNDAY is a radiant comedy-drama about a group of friends who get together to watch the annual New York City gay pride parade.

Tolins originally called it ANOTHER GAY PLAY because his characters joke about the accepted formula for “gay” plays. No sooner does one wag suggest that a buff young hunk ought to make an entrance, the doorbell rings and there he is. Tolins manages very nicely to have his cake and eat it too. He sends up the stereotypes and plot devices of the last two decades of gay plays while pulling at our heartstrings when LAST SUNDAY turns bittersweet.

We’re genuinely concerned about the future for the couple at the center of the story. Director Scott Edmiston subtly plants the seeds of discomfort amid the hilarity. The couple’s plans are scrapped when one of the men invites hordes of people over to watch the parade without consulting his lover.

The great fun of LAST SUNDAY lies in the outrageous characters descending on set designer Janie E. Howland’s magnificent apartment for a bird’s eye view of the parade. The great drama comes from the universal desire to be loved and accepted –and from Tolins surprising “revelation” for one of the men. Trey Burvant gives a lovely, understated performance as the more reserved of the two men whose apartment overlooks Christopher Street. Tom Lawler gives the gregarious host a dangerous edge, as if he’ll jump out of his skin if left alone with his lover on this particular Sunday.

Jeremy Johnson, brilliant in this summer’s SHAKESPEARE’S R&J, manages another star turn here as the flighty gadabout, clad in Gail Astrid Buckley’s tight vinyl pants. Larry Coen knows how to make an entrance (and make anything he says hilarious) : He practically folds inside out at the prospect of meeting “new” people, insuring that we will be buckled over with laughter. Tyler Hollinger, also a polished veteran of this summer’s R&J, pulls off a buff cameo as the requisite “body beautiful.”

Bill Mootos has the difficult role of the outsider who’s going way out on a limb—and he does so without sawing it off. Tori Davis, too, makes her character not only believable, but likeable, even loveable. Kudos to Edmiston and company for making the impossible possible, or at least plausible.

Best of all is Will McGarragan as the acerbic kidder, the ferocious center of the universe, the life of the party, the guy who’s laughing on the outside so no one can speculate on the inside. McGarrahan manages to spill the beans without becoming a villain. What a performance. What a play. Even the curtain call is sensational.

"The Last Sunday in June" (4 June - 3 July)
Boston Center for The Arts, 539 Tremont Street, BOSTON MA
1 (617)426-2787

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