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Late to the Party: Some Things about The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide

So here’s the deal. The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures is closing this week at the Public Theater and you should get there and see it before its does.

I say this now because I absolutely, unequivocally loved Intelligent Homosexual.  I’ve been trying to articulate that, to write it down, for weeks and weeks now and just… failing all over the place.

Because Tony Kushner, when he’s on top of his game (and he is), is the greatest American playwright working today.  He just is.  And how can my words measure up?  Even hope to capture what he’s put on that stage, or, more importantly, how it moved me?  It feels impossible.

But I want you to know Intelligent Homosexual is wonderful.  And so…it might be messy, but I’m going to try.

Some Thoughts in a Vaguely-Logical List:

  • Michael Esper is in it, and he’s giving an amazing performance. Plus, he’s cute as ever and spends at least five glorious minutes in a pair of black briefs and nothing else.
  • Also, holy balls is Esper’s body bangin’. I did not know that was hiding under his jeans and tee-shirt when he was being a lump on a couch at American Idiot.  He should get undressed in all of his roles from now on.
  • Intelligent Homosexual is about a family.  A family in crisis, really.  Gus Marcantonio has decided he wants to commit suicide, but first, he wants his three adult children to give him their blessing.  The play follows the family’s mental, emotional and verbal acrobatics as they come to terms with Gus’ choice over several days in the family brownstone in Brooklyn.
  • Sometimes, it feels like it’s about your family.  Like you’ve sat in the middle of that shouting match, like the injuries and insecurities are yours.  Everyone feels that.  For all its amazing specificity of place and circumstance, Kushner knows how to make every moment seem very personal.
  • It’s also about communism, sex, politics, marriage, betrayal, loyalty, love and faith.  You know, among other things.  Largely contained within the walls of the family dining room, Kushner’s story brings together the sort of big political ideas he’s so fond of exploring with the intimate human spaces in which those ideas are at their most powerful.
  • And then there’s Steven Pasquale—obscenely attractive, as always—who is giving what could be the performance of his life as V, the youngest of the Marcantonio children.  He is utterly remarkable throughout, but his scene in the third act will actually tear your beating heart out of your chest and break it.
  • Actually, the show is just generally well-acted and full of wonderful performances.  Linda Emond and Stephen Spinella, as V’s older siblings Empty and Pill, and Michael Christofer as Gus Marcantonio are standouts as well.
  • The opening scene is hilarious.  In fact, there’s quite a bit of laughter to be found in this intense drama.

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