Dream Man

We’re several decades past the era when a queer-themed play could earn accolades just by daring to exist. James Carroll Pickett’s 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 Pickett’s gilded prose; one of this staging’s crucial weaknesses is that a man who manipulates with words can’t get a handle on his own. He’s too melodramatic to be taken at face value, but his speeches aren’t delivered with a wink. What’s 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 that’s on the brink of losing its relevance. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: May 10. Continues through June 1, 2008