Saturday, June 20, 2015

Consent *

Sex and spanking seem to be popular off-Broadway this season. First we had “Permission” at MCC; now we have “Consent” at the Black Box Theatre below Roundabout’s Laura Pels Theatre. Roundabout apparently insisted on adding a line to the program indicating that the play is not a Roundabout production. It’s not a good sign when the landlord demands a disclaimer. “Consent” or, as I prefer to call it, “50 Shades of Gay,” tells what happens when Ron (Mark McCullough Thomas),a 40-something ex-pro footballer turned architect leaves wife and children behind in suburbia for a Manhattan loft where he hopes to live freely as a gay man. He picks up Kurt (Michael Goldstein), a hunky lad who turns out to be a Yale law student, on a subway platform and brings him home for a night of sex. When they next get together, a BDSM relationship begins. Kurt initiates Ron into the receiving end of anal sex, an act that Ron did not consciously consent to. Susie (Angela Pierce), Ron’s soon-to-be ex-wife, puts in a couple of appearances that make it clear why he is divorcing her. When Ron has trouble handling his feelings for Kurt, he turns to his big sister Emily (the wildly overacting Catherine Curtin) who does her best to comfort him. The play is crudely written. Some of the rough language seems designed merely to shock. There are plot points that don’t go anywhere and others that make no sense. The play skirts dangerously close to soft porn, providing as many occasions as possible for Ron and Kurt to cavort in their skimpy underwear. Alas, eye candy does not a play make. Scott Tedman-Jones’s loft set is quite attractive. Izzy Field’s costume budget must have been low, because underwear doesn’t cost that much. The lighting design by John Eckert and the sound design by Chad Raines both seemed overwrought. Playwright David Rhodes directed. The audience included four or five brave women. If you take the elevator at the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre, be sure to get off at the right floor. Otherwise, you’ll end up with “Consent” instead of “Significant Other.” Running time: one hour 45 minutes, no intermission. (They were smart enough to remove the 10-minute intermission indicated in the program.)

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