Los Angeles Theater Review: DADDY (Hudson Theatre)

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by Harvey Perr on January 18, 2011

in Theater-Los Angeles

OH, DADDY, POOR DADDY, SOMEONE’S
TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF YOUR GOOD NATURE
(AND GUESS WHO IT IS?)

When you watch Dan Via, the actor, play the part of a wise-cracking, heart-lonely “best friend,” you will get an idea of what the style of Dan Via, the playwright, consists. He acts earnestly and straight-forwardly and totally without nuance. His play Daddy, depending on how you look at it, is either earnest and straight-forward or it is a play totally lacking in what might be referred to as light and shadow, or style and substance, or whatever it is that separates good plays from better ones.

It may be purposeful that Daddy looks like a conventional gay boulevard comedy at first, replete with all sorts of gay stereotypes and gay clichés (I know, clichés are based on truths, but when the truth becomes a cliché, it’s time to look for another truth, or at least puncture a hole through the cliché), because what Via is after is the fact that, while gay relationships evolve in standard ways, one never knows when a shock will come along that will change everything. And Via provides the shocker, all right; but before it arrives, things are so predictable, it is hard not to suppress a yawn when it does come. You can’t turn boulevard comedy into Greek tragedy just by willing it. It has to be there, if not in the writing, then in the way you treat the subject.

It is difficult to talk about Daddy more clearly without revealing its dirty little secret; and, yet, to do so would be grossly unfair to anyone’s experiencing it. Let’s just say it’s about Colin, who gets taken in by a much younger admirer, Thaddeus; and, though Thaddeus, at first, rejects Colin’s more aggressive sexual overtures, he finally surrenders; and Stewart, Colin’s best friend, who is secretly in love with Colin himself, looks suspiciously upon the relationship that forms between Colin and Thaddeus. That is the premise from which whatever tension exists emerges.

If anything, it is Ian Verdun’s Thaddeus that keeps us interested in what happens; he is as real as you can get under such mundane experiences. The delicate truth of his character comes through – without any support, I might say, from either the play or his fellow actors. Gerald McCullouch as Colin is attractive enough and comfortable on the stage, and Via adds an edge every now and then to his earnestness, but neither digs very deeply into his part; they just seem to let the play go its unmerry way until that shock comes, and then neither is prepared to give a full-throttle assault on their emotions, let alone on ours. It is the shock, not the truth, that the play is after. And the play reaches a fairly sentimental resolution without bothering to resolve the play’s central issue. Maybe the resolution it arrives at is what was intended in the first place. The uneven and half-hearted direction provided by Rick Sparks doesn’t help much in letting us know. Indeed, very little about Daddy resembles gay life except as it appears in too many formulaic gay plays.

photos by Ed Krieger

Daddy
Hudson Theatre Mainstage
8539 Santa Monica Blvd. in Hollywood
Fri and Sat at 8; Sun at 7
ends on February 13, 2011 EXTENDED to April 10, 2011
for tickets, call 323.960.7738 or visit Plays411 and Daddy the Play

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