Were several decades past the era when a queer-themed play could earn accolades just by daring to exist. James Carroll Picketts one-man one-act about a gay phone-sex operator returns to the theater where it premiered in 1985, but struggles to justify the reprise. On a slow night, Christopher (Jimmy Shaw) fields calls from two lonely-hearts, a psychopath and his ex-boyfriend, while waxing grandiloquently about sex and illusion. Both the scant action and the actor himself are drowned in Picketts gilded prose; one of this stagings crucial weaknesses is that a man who manipulates with words cant get a handle on his own. Hes too melodramatic to be taken at face value, but his speeches arent delivered with a wink. Whats hammered home is that hired seduction hollows the soul and we all mask a dash of perversion obvious truths made even more obvious by Michael Kearns hand-holding direction, which presses Shaw to overact, underlines his big moments with thunderclaps and even has him writhe on a platform under red lights each time he rhapsodizes about screwing. YouTube records show that Kearns, who originated the role, allowed himself more naturalism a necessity for a play thats on the brink of losing its relevance. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: May 10. Continues through June 1, 2008
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