Saturday, September 4, 2010

Say You Love Satan, convergence-continuum

(Lukas Roberts as Jack and Scott Gorbach as Andrew)

If falling for a “bad boy” is compellingly attractive to many women and gay men, then being swept away by the son of Satan himself would have to qualify as the ultimate hard-on. Especially if that hellacious offspring was hot, smart, and able to chill a bottle of beer with a wave of his hand.

This is the situation that forms the core of Say You Love Satan by Roberto Aguirre-Sacassa, now at convergence-continuum. And while the play revolves around a contemporary incarnation of beelzebub, it never comes to grip in any significant way with a number of heavy issues raised on the periphery. Instead, the focus here is on laughs, and the con-con crew delivers plenty of those thanks to fine performances and deft timing.

Andrew is a kind of nebbishy gay guy who is between relationships (with nice Jarrod and egomaniacal Chad), and re-reading The Brothers Karamozov in a laundromat. In steps Jack, who proceeds to strip to the waist and starts doing pushups while waiting for his clothes to cycle. Andrew is instantly smitten by Jack’s other-worldly gorgeousness, and soon they are spending the evenings together.

This new relationship shunts wonderful Jarrod (he volunteers at an orphanage where he holds babies that have been neglected) off to the side. But Andrew is a bit bothered by Jack’s “666” tattoo in his hairline, and his difficulty in walking when the sun’s about to rise.

As Andrew and Jack grow closer, things heat up in unforeseen ways and Andrew’s gal pal Bernadette is called upon to help save her buddy from the fires of the damned. And further assistance comes winging in from a most unexpected source.

The playwright sprinkles plenty of punch lines throughout the script (Jack: “Are you Russian?” Andrew: “No, I’m just sullen.”), and even when the gags are predictable, they manage to click. This is due in large part to Scott Gorbach, who invests Andrew with just enough earnest naivete to make his character endearing and relatable. For instance, Andrew insists on keeping his eyes open during a kiss, which becomes hilarious during his frequent lip-locks with Jack.

As Jack, Lukas Roberts has a sizzling bod and a matching manner that will steam your glasses (and if you don't wear specs, he'll fog up your corneas). He’s a passionate, sexy handful, and when his amorous smoldering turns into flames of anger, you can feel the raging heat. Ultimately, when Jack’s real identity is revealed, Roberts has the acting chops to make it feel real.

Zac Hudak, double cast as the preening Chad and surprise visitor Raphael, is spot-on in both roles, while Stuart Hoffman is wistfully charming as angelic Jarrod. Lauren B. Smith garners a number of laughs as the put upon Bernadette, although her high decibel rants become a bit wearying.

The script works hard to develop a thematic connection between the patricide-centered plot of the Dostoyevsky novel that Andrew lugs around and Jack’s supposed conflict with his dad, but this juxtaposition never quite jells. This makes Andrew’s frequent mini-lectures on The Brothers Karamozov a bit of a bore.

And ironically, for a play that makes fun of Disney musicals (Jack admits there’s a special place in Hell for people in those productions), Aguirre-Sacassa tacks on a pat, smiley-face ending that doesn’t really feel true to the characters he’s created. Indeed, it’s a conclusion the Disney studios might have dreamt up.

Director Clyde Simon once again reshapes his small playing area to maximum effect, and keeps the pace brisk and amusing. However, con-con's obsession with using video in all their plays is once again a loser, as the video segments are either unnecessary (people dancing in a bar while live actors dance in a bar) or tedious (watching Jack and Andrew exit a car and walk across a street, watching laundry tumble).

Still, there are giggles aplenty in this piece. And that makes it easy for anyone to love this particular six-packed, stone cold sexy Satan.

Say You Love Satan

Through September 25, produced by convergence-

continuum at The Liminis, 2438 Scranton Road,


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