Paul Anthony Stewart and Bobby Steggert in <i>Harbor</i>
Paul Anthony Stewart and Bobby Steggert in Harbor
(© T. Charles Erickson)
Chad Beguelin's Harbor, now at Westport Country Playhouse, under the direction of Mark Lamos, is touching and tough in depicting a gay couple at odds over adopting a baby. But it still needs some improvement before reaching New York audiences.

Architect Ted (Paul Anthony Stewart) and would-be writer Kevin (Bobby Steggert) are a contented same-sex pair with obvious discretionary funds living in a smartly converted Sag Harbor clapboard home with Greek finishes (stylishly designed by Andrew Jackness) when Kevin's wayward sister Donna (Kate Nowlin), living in a van with precocious daughter Lottie (Alexis Molnar), arrives to cause trouble in paradise.

Apparently interloping for a short stay, the morally loose Donna turns out to be pregnant -- by no one she identifies -- and determines that her unborn daughter be raised by Kevin and Ted. M What Donna doesn't know, and refuses to accept when she learns about it, is that Ted, the household's sole breadwinner, has a deep-seated aversion to children -- even though he takes a shine to quick-witted, well-read Lottie.

What Donna does know, not surprisingly, is that since Kevin's youth, he's longed to be a dad, and no matter how intellectually lacking and openly homophobic she may be, she also knows how to play effectively on his repressed inclination.

The results of her manipulation are that the understanding between Kevin and Ted about remaining childless is reopened against their wishes -- and resentments they assumed they had buried concerning Ted's attitude towards the younger unproductive Kevin come to the surface.

Indeed, Ted is particularly skeptical about the novel Kevin's been writing during the 10 years the two have been together -- a novel even Kevin has difficulty summarizing, and which Donna, after reading what exists of it, deems less marketable than a cookbook by Adolf Hitler. (Indeed, it would be fun to know what the James Joyce-knowledgeable Lottie would make of Kevin's unfinished opus.)

Unfortunately, nowhere does Beguelin include what should be a definitely obligatory scene where Ted and Kevin establish the means by which they came to their decision regarding the possibility of adopting children. It's merely presented as a fait accompli, which, given the plot's circumstances, it can't be.

Perhaps more pressingly, in a second-act Carvel parking-lot sequence where the two men hash out their now exposed differences, Kevin doesn't provoke Ted to probe his reasons for disliking the very idea of their becoming parents. Until then, Ted has only railed expansively but superficially against the notion. The audience, however, needs either to receive an explanation for his adamant stance or to see him, when questioned, weakly fail at justifying himself.

Still, there is no argument that Harbor contains plenty of amusing lines, and that Steggert, Stewart, Nowlin, and especially young Molnar meet their requirements with aplomb.