By Albert H. Fulcher
Full of raw humor that breaks into belly laughs, “Wally & His Lover Boys” tackles the issues of getting older in the gay dating scene with a lot of cheeky hilarity, and some bare cheeks. A refreshing comedy, the story follows Wally (Markuz Rodriguez) as he navigates the dating scene as a “silver fox” after two divorces — once to a woman, who he has a son (Colby) with, and a second long-term marriage to a man.
The first half of the play takes place at the Muddy Rudder restaurant, where Wally is using a blind-dating app to meet up with his first date in a very long time. His nervousness was believably funny, checking how he looks using a silver spoon as he waits to see who is coming to dinner. It just so happens, or not so, that his best friend Charlie (Juan Hernandez) is a waiter at the restaurant and is there to support (or not) his friend. Charlie comes straight forward as a bitter old queen, but underneath, even his sharp words and slimy quips can’t hide his devotion to Wally.
Much to their surprise, walks in Mayfield (Jake Bevill), who is a palynologist, but makes his living as a stripper. And, he’s about Colby’s age. It is not long before Mayfield is throwing his clothes off in the restaurant and displaying his profession in nothing but a jockstrap. So much happens in dialogue and scene, it is a romping fun time that never misses a beat, and neither did the performers. From one-liners to intense interchange, this play, which travels over a few years, keeps you guessing what’s coming next.
Well, 18 months later, still in the Muddy Rudder, Wally is waiting for Mayfield for their first anniversary, and he is late, as always. Charlie tries convincing Wally that Mayfield is always late because he is blowing everyone in town after his gigs, but Wally is blinded to the truth, or at least wants to be. There is some great chemistry between Wally and Charlie and being close to the same age, their conversations, however crude or direct, showed a connection of true friendship. Wally knows he’s right, but his fear of a third failed marriage, but finally forfeits to the truth and Wally finds himself, an older gay man, alone again.
Fast forward a year later and Wally is seeing a young prostitute Bart (Hunter Brown). Wally is bitter, waiting for his Viagra to kick in when Bart tells Wally that he is in love with him. Well, Bart, with his sweet Southern charm and always reciting the wise words of his Aunt Patty (Claudette Santiago), stole many a heart during his performance. Although he didn’t have the quirky, rough lines that filled the rest of the show, his allure was in his simplicity. But even this did not stop the continuous rhythm of an ever-changing story.
Fast pace forward. Bart convinces Wally of his love and they plan to marry. The ex, Mayfield drops a bomb that he’s dating Wally’s son Colby (whom you never see) and wants to marry him and the infamous Aunt Patty is traveling to come to the wedding. Colby dumps Mayfield and he tries to win back Wally the same way he caught him the first time, by stripping down to the first jockstrap he wore when they first met. That’s when Bart, Aunt Patty and Charlie enter the room.
Aunt Patty is as extreme as they come, both in word and fashion, really taking a dig at rural Southern mentality, but in a great way. This outlandish character stood out, and there was no way to miss her, and you didn’t want to. Her character was essential to, well, should I say “climax,” to this extremely entertaining play.
It was a Mel Brooks-ish, Keystone Cops kind of vibe throughout the play and hit the funny bone in the gayest of ways. Choreographer turned playwright and director Michael Mizerany did a phenomenal job at pulling all of this together and bringing it to life with wonderful casting. Every role was essential, every line laid perfectly, and a little bare cheek never hurt anyone. Even in “the splash zone.”
The Black Box Theatre located at Diversionary theatre was a great venue for this play presented by Compulsion Dance & Theatre. Just as the story, this play was in your face and so it should be. It’s an in-your-face kind of production that deserves attention. Hopefully, Mizerany will bring us an encore.