Theater Review: LOCUSTS HAVE NO KING (New Conservatory Theatre Center in San Francisco)

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by Chuck Louden on April 17, 2023

in Theater-San Francisco / Bay Area


From the Book of Proverbs: Locusts have no king. But they all move forward in formation. Rough translation: Locusts have no king so they lead a life of smallness and conformity — a crowd mentality. It’s also a metaphor for The West Coast premiere of Queer, Puerto Rican and Dominican playwright C. Julian Jiménez’s one-act at San Francisco’s New Conservatory Theatre Center.

Daniel Redmond, Donald Currie

It’s the story of the struggle to live your truth and faith. Can one do both or are they mutually exclusive constructs? Two closeted gay couples get together for a dinner party, during which truths, hidden anger, and long held resentments for each other are revealed. The quartet are Catholic priests living together in a small and claustrophobic rectory. Living a duplicitous life of helping people live their lives, yet hiding much of who they are, takes its toll on their souls. This causes all of them, in their own way, to question their chosen vocation.

Nathan Tyluki, Daniel Redmond, Donald Currie

Both couples Jonathan & Marcus and nextdoor neighbors Lucas & Matthew are each seemingly living on top of each other. Each couple has problems in their relationship as well as personal conflicts that are revealed over the course of the evening.

Nathan Tylutki and Matthew Bridges

Jonathan (Donald Currie) is the older lifelong priest, who’s holding on to everyone’s secrets. His younger partner Marcus (Daniel Redmond) is bored in his relationship, and by maintaining the status quo and the hypocrisy of the closeted lifestyle.

Matthew Bridges, Daniel Redmond, Donald Currie, Nathan Tylutki

Lucus (Nathan Tylutki), also from the old school of priesthood, is slowly coming apart at the seams. He tries holding it together by self-medicating with marijuana and excessive drinking. Young Matthew (Matthew Bridges) is the most troubled of the four, questioning not only his dysfunctional relationship but his calling to the priesthood altogether.

Donald Currie, Matthew Bridges, Daniel Redmond

NCTC’s Director-in-Residence Richard A. Mosqueda builds the drama by allowing his top-notch performers to physically divulge secrets and backstories slowly. When Jiménez’s backbiting wit and catty comments build up tension, well, all hell breaks loose.

Daniel Redmond, Matthew Bridges, Donald Currie, Nathan Tylutki

As the characters slowly drop their facades and let loose their defenses, we see that there are no heroes in the group. We are drawn to the individual struggles of each character. The ending is somewhat foreshadowed throughout the show, but — no spoilers — the final scenes are worth the price of admission.

Daniel Redmond, Matthew Bridges, Donald Currie, Nathan Tylutki

All the action takes place in the living room/dining room of one of the couples. Given the big room and the small theater, it makes for an intimate experience. (Set Design Devin Kasper).

A provocative, suspenseful and timely show, it’s definitely a riveting night of theater.

photos by Lois Tema

Locusts Have No King
New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness Ave (@ Market)
ends on May 14, 2023
for tickets, call 415.861/8972 or visit NCTC

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