LOADED, starring Kevin Spirtas (Craig Wesley, DAYS) and Scott Kerns, Theater Row, NYC
WARNING: This play is not for the homophobic or the faint-of-heart.
There are a few good things you can say about LOADED. I liked the set. I thought the acting was excellent, for the most part. Occasionally, there was some dialogue that made me laugh. But overall, this play didn’t work for me.
Sometimes, you can just tell that plays are written more with the intent to explore a certain theme or topic rather than to actually tell a story. The action and the characters were secondary to the playwright Elliot Ramon Potts’s real interest which appeared to be to preach about the difference between being a gay born in the 1960s and a gay born in the 1980s.
The play starts out with Jude (Kerns) and Patrick (Spirtas) naked under the sheets after some hot sex. It’s clear these two guys don’t know each other very well; and it doesn’t take very long for them to get annoyed with one another, mainly because of the age difference. After a few snarky exchanges, I assumed that eventually one of them would say “Okay, this was fun” and call it a day. But no. They then proceeded to debate and discuss every gay topic under the sun and a few that aren’t, often with the result of personally attacking each other, getting hurt, making up, getting close to having sex again, only to fall onto another controversial gay topic, sparking another debate which would again get nasty. And this pattern pretty much went on for the rest of the play. There were some good points made which provided food for thought; but ultimately, this was pretty tedious to sit through for 90 minutes. If this occurred as a debate on CROSSFIRE or on a college campus somewhere, I could see it being pretty interesting – but it didn’t come across in a play. As a really really really long argument between two lovers, it was simply unbelievable and beating a dead horse as it was obvious that neither man was going to see the other’s viewpoint or even attempt to compromise. After a while, I no longer cared whether these guys were going to be together or not. I just wanted the monotony to end.
When the show wasn’t a dissertation on differing homosexual generations, it was mainly raunchiness and sex. I suppose how sexy Patrick and Jude actually were together is in the eye of the beholder. For me, the show seemed to be going for “no holds barred”, but the actors were working way too hard at it. It was all groping and rolling around on each other on the bed, but I didn’t feel much in the way of emotion – not even the quick and dirty thrill of a one-night-stand sex encounter.
Aside from the chemistry problem, I think that Spirtas and Kerns are both fine actors who did the best with what they had to work with. Every once in a while, Spirtas got to show his sense of humor (he did a really kickass Harvey Fierstein imitation); and he was very strong in a few poignant moments, like when the character of Patrick was remembering all of his lovers and friends who he had lost to AIDS. Kerns was a good acting foil for him, playing the younger lover who alternated between touching optimism and annoying self-righteousness.
For those Diva readers with more prurient interests: yes, Mr. Spirtas was as naked as a jaybird about ten minutes into the play. What can I say? Kevin has a tiny bit of a tummy and a little sag in the rear end, but for a 47-year-old, I’d say he’s holding up very nicely indeed. He has a pretty impressive package in front as well. I certainly wouldn’t kick him out of bed for eating crackers!
Review by FancyFace