Director Rich Rubin has been bringing the work of dramatist Daniel Talbott, of the Rattlesticks Playwrights Theater out of NY&LA, to GayFest first with Slipping and then with commissioned work Mike and Seth, and last year’s post NY apocalypto drama Somebody Brought Me, all distinctly different. This year it was Rubin’s concept to put three short works of Talbott’s together, that not only display Talbott’s incredible versatility as a writer, but a chance for four fine young actors to work with great material.
In Break My Face on Your Hand Calvn Atkinson (who can by now be called a seasoned Talbott actor, appearing in all of his festival plays) plays a teen named Bear who can dance and is comfortable with watching baseball, wearing dresses to rehearse very balletic Beyonce moves. He has been bullied by Trev, who has been ordered by the school to be more sensitive to him. Talbott gets under the surface of all of the bullying buzz phrases. Atkinson and Mark Cooper as the popular kid who is hostile to anger management get under the skin of these young men. Cooper is also in ‘You Know My Name’ as Guy 2 who sits on a bench in the nude, with just his groom’s socks on (he left everything else at the altar) and a strategically placed radio, he listens to ’Disco Lemonade’ and Guy 1, played by Mark Sherlock joins him and they strike up wending conversation that ends up changing both of their lives. Framed with a nod to Albee’s Zoo Story and even has a wry line about Albee & his naked highway adventure, meanwhile, Talbott’s naturalized poetic dialogue is beautifully delivered by these actors. What Happened When is a dark family drama about two brothers and each escaping an abusive father, but one having to relive the pain as he tries to make his way in the world. Sherlock plays the older brother who gets him to face truths and Connor Feimster is the younger man who must somehow bring hope to his dreams that have been completely smashed. Hard stuff, sensitively played. Fine direction by Rubin showcases another Talbott hit for GayFest!
You Know My Name: A Daniel Talbott Trio plays at the Skybox at the Adrienne Theater thru 8.22