The world premiere of Plan-B Theatre Company's production of Adam & Steve and the Empty Sea will surely strike a chord with anyone appalled by California's Proposition 8 and the LDS Church's well-documented efforts to fight gay marriage in order to "save the family."
Thankfully, playwright Matthew Greene's two-man show doesn't devolve into mere political speechifying as the title characters navigate their respective journeys into adulthood, and into their true selves. Rather, Greene shows, through their story, how true friendship and love can transcend different sexual orientations, different religious backgrounds and different political persuasions.
It's a bumpy road the characters have to take to reach that conclusion, and the audience sees Adam (Topher Rasmussen) and Steve (Logan Tarantino) bounce between adolescence and young adulthood via a series of vignettes that range from playful silliness to intense screaming matches as they alternately feel concerned for each other and blame each other for some of the trials each encounters while growing up.
Both actors do a fine job in drawing the audience to their characters' corners, and Greene gives them some excellent scenes to work through, full of utterly believable dialogue and enough dramatic twists to keep the audience interested through the 90-minute running time.
Adam & Steve and the Empty Sea is at its best when Greene juxtaposes one powerful scene of Steve coming out to his lifelong friend Adam with a later, even more powerful passage when Adam tells Steve he is going to go on a mission rather than join him at USC for what would have been their freshman year of college. It was a touching twist, and a fine illustration of how some people react just as strongly to someone finding a religious faith as other do to someone coming to grips with their homosexuality.
The actual Prop 8 fight is only featured in one scene of many, serving as a nice dividing line between the friends' childhoods and division into separate adult paths, albeit briefly. The play doesn't lack anything for it, though, raising plenty of questions about the nature of love and friendship that linger after the lights go down.
(Photo courtesy of Rick Pollock)