DEAR HARVEY – NYC Fringe Theater Festival Review

by Kestryl Lowrey on August 29, 2010

in Theater-New York

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HARVEY MILK 101

Dear Harvey is an educational theatre campaign, spearheaded by playwright Patricia Loughrey and composer Thomas Hodges.  Loughrey has compiled and arranged primary source materials about Harvey Milk and the lives he changed, and she wants everyone to learn more about his personality and mission.

Comprised entirely of interviews with people who knew Harvey Milk (or were significantly impacted by his life and work) and excerpts from Milk’s own writings, Dear Harvey uses a journalistic approach to flesh out the first openly gay man to be elected to major public office in the United States.  At times, the monologues are uneven or repetitive, but the overall chorus provides a picture of Milk’s vision for gay rights and equality.

An ensemble of seven performers portray the various individuals who remember Harvey Milk, most frequently delivering monologues as characters introduced by other members of the ensemble.  Occasionally, when the material shifts away from interview transcripts into other primary source materials, the performers alternate lines or speak simultaneously.  The monologues are not arranged in a linear narrative arc, allowing the audience to appreciate a range of stories of Milk’s life without over-emphasizing his tragic end.

While the production purports to portray Harvey Milk as a human, featuring stories from people who really knew him, the show has a hagiographic tone.  While some monologues briefly mention that Milk had his personality flaws, “just like the rest of us,” they quickly move on, offering no more than the slightest suggestion of any less-than-admirable aspects.  Perhaps no one wanted to risk speaking ill of the dead; nonetheless, it would be invigorating if the production could delve deeper into Milk’s humanity.

As an avowedly an educational theatre production, Dear Harvey will find its best audiences at high schools and colleges where students will feel inspired and vitalized by Milk’s ongoing encouragements for people in all sectors of society to “Come Out!”  Students are already increasingly familiar with Milk’s legacy, due in no small part to the 2008 biopic, MilkDear Harvey brings more voices into the conversation, further enlivening this chapter of gay history for anyone who cares to listen.

kestryl.lowrey @ stageandcinema.com

The final NYC Fringe performance of Dear Harvey was on August 28.
For more information, visit http://www.diversionary.org/dearharveyfringenyc.html

DEAR HARVEY is an educational theatre campaign, spearheaded by playwright Patricia Loughrey and composer Thomas Hodges. Loughrey has compiled and arranged primary source materials about Harvey Milk and the lives he changed, and she wants everyone to learn more about his personality and mission.

Comprised entirely of interviews with people who knew Harvey Milk (or were significantly impacted by his life and work) and excerpts from Milk’s own writings, DEAR HARVEY uses a journalistic approach to flesh out the first openly gay man to be elected to major public office in the United States. At times, the monologues are uneven or repetitive, but the overall chorus provides a picture of Milk’s vision for gay rights and equality.

An ensemble of seven performers portray the various individuals who remember Harvey Milk, most frequently delivering monologues as characters introduced by other members of the ensemble. Occasionally, when the material shifts away from interview transcripts into other primary source materials, the performers alternate lines or speak simultaneously. The monologues are not arranged in a linear narrative arc, allowing the audience to appreciate a range of stories of Milk’s life without over-emphasizing his tragic end.

While the production purports to portray Harvey Milk as a human, featuring stories from people who really knew him, the show has a hagiographic tone. While some monologues briefly mention that Milk had his personality flaws, “just like the rest of us,” they quickly move on, offering no more than the slightest suggestion of any less-than-admirable aspects. Perhaps no one wanted to risk speaking ill of the dead; nonetheless, it would be invigorating if the production could delve deeper into Milk’s humanity.

As an avowedly an educational theatre production, DEAR HARVEY will find its best audiences at high schools and colleges where students will feel inspired and vitalized by Milk’s ongoing encouragements for people in all sectors of society to “Come Out!” Students are already increasingly familiar with Milk’s legacy, due in no small part to the 2008 biopic, MILK. DEAR HARVEY brings more voices into the conversation, further enlivening this chapter of gay history for anyone who cares to listen.

kestryl.lowrey @ stageandcinema.com

The final NYC Fringe performance of Dear Harvey was on August 28.

For more information, visit http://www.diversionary.org/dearharveyfringenyc.html

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