Bed and Breakfast
nytheatre.com review by Melanie N. Lee
July 16, 2008
Although Bed and Breakfast has deep discussions, interesting characters, and engrossing scenes, the overall experience is uneven. Much acting is weak, some direction is misaimed, and the script, though full of laughs, is anticlimactic. Bed and Breakfast is watchable, even enjoyable, yet disappointing.
Written and directed by Sam Sommer—he may need a new director for fresh perspective—this two-act play takes place at "a small Bed and Breakfast in a gay beach resort, anywhere USA." Six gay men and one straight woman arrive, in pairs or alone, for a weekend of serenity, sun, and sex. Sullivan, or Van (Jeffrey Vause), in his fuchsia robe complaining about his tasteless English muffin, banters with his female friend Chance (Dina Prioste), who meditates in the lotus position. Flirtatious Wayne (Jonathan Emerson), a Chinese-Irish blend, suggests Van "skip the muffins and go for the buns."
Predatory, restless Tom (Tyler Fischer, a David Spade lookalike) arrives with his loyal, emotional lover Jerry (Daniel Koenig). Terrence (Jimmy Moon), called Terry or T.T., hits it off with Wayne, arousing Van's jealousy and inspiring some amusing bitchy banter. Drew (Robert Maisonett), a well-built, bronzed, philosophical man, warns the others, especially Tom and Jerry, against making the mistakes he and his ex-lover did.
Rumors spread about the arrival of porn star Curtis Troy, "The Trojan Horse" who is...well, like a horse. The night between the acts turns up a star moment for Drew and a curious girl-date for Chance. She asks why gay men have sex with anyone—to which Drew counters, "All men do," and T.T. retorts, "Why are women hung up on monogamy?" Van quips about Drew's "Sermon on the Deck." When Tom goes missing overnight, Jerry fears the worst; indeed, something bad has happened.
Bed and Breakfast has a pretty good story, interesting characters, and a script full of laughs. Masionett is a real find. Fischer is also good, and I wanted to see more of him. Koenig, Vause, and Moon play their characters well at times. Prioste has good moments, but at times is only serviceable. Sometimes the actors are engrossed and believable; other times, they are only reciting lines, not truly living their characters. Sadly, Emerson is miscast and seems uncomfortable. His one shining scene has Wayne under the influence of Ecstasy. He doesn't look Asian; his accent is neither stereotypical nor distinct. A few of these actors are supposed to be playing foreigners, and they need a dialogue coach.
The show lacks a main character, through whose eyes we see the action, or who pulls the others into his/her orbit. Drew comes close, but it's not enough. The play starts slowly, then hits its stride, then hits some bumps. The scenes do not shape nor build to a satisfying conclusion. Some incidents are told rather than shown. If Bed and Breakfast is supposed to be a slice of life, the ingredients of this cake don't yet have the right blend.