STRAIGHT Buffalo United Artists/Alleyway Theatre
Just the other day, I heard a speaker talking about good decisions and bad decisions.
That’s what Scott Elmegreen and local native Drew Fornarola are writing about in “Straight,” with Ben (Michael Seitz) trying to see if he wants to spend more nights in bed with Emily (Cassie Gorniewicz) or Chris (Adam Hayes).
He’s been with Emily since college and they settled in Boston because she would be working on her Ph.D. in some exotic life sciences field.
Ben wound up working for a money management firm which is paying him a lot of money as he climbs the corporate ladder.
He hates the job and she’s driving herself crazy trying to make her research work.
They live in separate apartments which means when Ben meets Chris she doesn’t know what’s going on.
Chris is much younger, a student at Boston College who knows he’s gay but isn’t out, while Ben, obviously, is in a closet which can be switched between visiting wardrobes.
Ben is having the best of both worlds, while not really having a clue about what’s going on in his head, just below his waist.
It’s also clear he has no friends, especially friends he can talk with about the mess he’s in and maybe get some advice, good or bad, about what to do.
This is one of those shows where audience members sit there and wonder how Ben could be so stupid about his personal life.
He needs to make a choice.
Now, I know these situations actually occur and I know several people who have gone through it and made different choices in different situations and had different impacts on those closest to them.
Only Emily seems to have some sense of where she’s heading and that doesn’t include her personal life.
The playwrights have built the show on a quick set of vignettes about what starts as alternating pairs and builds to a confused trio and not leading where you think it’s going.
The ending is somewhat surprising and socially acceptable for most of the population, although it suggests some deep long-term problems.
As so often in BUA productions, director Javier Bustillos built the production about Michael Seitz because if you don’t have a strong performer as Ben: Who would care what decision he makes?
The other two roles are less solid because of the way “Straight” is structured, the driven and oblivious grad student and the young and questing undergrad.
Lines and events often drew specific laughs and interjections from the audience, an audience which included Fornarola, suggesting the authors were hitting with the people in the paid seats.
“Straight” is one of those: What would I do? Plays.
Would you make the decision Ben does?
That’s why this play is worth seeing and pondering.
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