The final production in the Trumpet Vine Theatre Company’s season of plays at Arlington’s Theatre on the Run is a gentle comedy/drama that treats the issues surrounding adoption by gay people in a touching way from the perspective of the gay community. “The David Dance” stars its playwright, Don Scimé, a native of Buffalo where the play takes place. He has many credits performing in New York and the play had its premiere at New York’s Fringe Festival in 2003.
In this, its local premiere, the play gets a fairly satisfying production
with two fine performances in principal roles and a pair of supporting performers doing nice work in smaller roles, but there is one distracting stiff portrayal of a key character.
While Scimé traveled here to appear in the play, the other five slots in the cast are filled by local talents including Liesyl Franz who plays Scimé’s sister and John Hefner who plays his gay lover. The plot revolves around the sister’s plans to adopt a 10 year old girl from Brazil. When the sister dies in an airplane accident on her way to get the girl in Brazil, her brother decides to adopt in her stead.
Scimé brings a smooth stage presence to the role of the brother, the “David” of the title. He’s a shy thirty-something gay man who often only comes out of his shell when he is on the air with his own late-night radio talk-show titled “Gay Talk.” As the play opens, his strongest relationship is with his older sister who was his protector when they were young. Now, she’s a thrice-divorced professional woman who wants to be a mother but doesn’t want another potentially disastrous marriage and divorce, so she plans to adopt.
Franz plays the sister with humor and a natural warmth that matches Scimé’s own personality well, so they make a fine pair.
THE PLAY FOLLOWS three intertwined plots, with the adoption issue the
connecting bridge between them all. The secondary plot involves the developing relationship between David and his gay radio technician who becomes his lover. Of the three leading members of the cast, John Hefner is the most self-conscious on stage. He frequently seems to be aware that he performing rather than loosing himself in the character, especially in the early scenes in which he flirts with and then wins David. Once their relationship has been solidly established, however, he is more believable in the increasingly dramatic scenes in the second act.
Controversy over the issue of gay adoption comes in the third sub-plot, this one involving a debate on the radio. One night David discovers that an anti-gay fundamentalist Christian talk-show host in another city is doing her show on the topic of gay adoption and he calls in so both hosts are on both radio shows at the same time. The debate between them carries over to shows on other nights as well.
Anne Paine West does triple duty in this production. She’s the anti-gay radio personality. She’s also a nun in the Brazilian orphanage where the adoptive child is and a nurse in a local nursery. While none of these parts are written with much depth or complexity, West does a fine job with each of them. Also doing nice work is eleven year old Elena Flores as the Brazilian child being adopted.
Trumpet Vine’s Artistic Director Vincent Worthington handles both directing and set design duties for the production. The set features two radio studio desks in front of a window to a control booth. Using bluish white colors that may emphasize the cold of a Buffalo winter, the set serves memory scenes of episodes from David and his sister’s childhood while a draped area to one side allows a few flights of emotional fancy.
Brad Hathaway reviews theater in Virginia, Washington and Maryland as well as Broadway, and edits Potomac Stages, a Web site covering theater in the region (www.PotomacStages.com). He can be reached at Brad@PotomacStages.com.