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A Night in Vegas

Full-frontal male nudity and forced humor are the primary ingredients of Joe Marshall's gay male sex comedy.

By New York City
Joe Fanelli and Edy Escamilla in A Night in Vegas
(© Paul Crispin Quitoriano)
Joe Fanelli and Edy Escamilla in A Night in Vegas
(© Paul Crispin Quitoriano)
Full frontal male nudity and forced humor are the primary ingredients of A Night in Vegas, writer/director Joe Marshall's gay male sex comedy, currently playing the Bleecker Street Theatre. The 90-minute intermissionless show is composed of short unrelated vignettes set in the same Las Vegas hotel room, and shares a similar premise with Neil Simon's Plaza Suite and California Suite, although anyone expecting anything close to the level of Simon's comic wit will be sorely disappointed.

The first scene concerns long-term lovers Ted (Nicholas Pierro) and Steven (Kelly Riley), whose weekend getaway is interrupted by a male prostitute (Joe Fanelli), a corpse that doesn't seem to want to stay dead (Denis Hawkins), and a couple of not-so-helpful hotel employees (Edy Escamilla and Chris von Hoffmann). There are a few actually funny bits in this piece, mostly involving the stashing away of the "dead" body in different locations, but the acting is so bad that it drains much of the humor from the proceedings.

The next scene attempts a more serious tone, as Andrew (Jason Romas) and Rick (Drew Stark) come back to the latter's hotel room for what at first seems a casual hook-up, but ends up a lot more personally revealing than either had intended. Stark has a quiet, understated delivery that gives substance to the monologue in which he talks about his fears surrounding HIV infection, but the speech -- and the scene as a whole -- comes across as overly simplistic and somewhat labored.

Marshall's writing hits a low point with the third scenario, in which Marc (von Hoffmann), who is deaf, and Tom (Hawkins), who is blind, are left together in the hotel room after their respective boyfriends go down to retrieve some luggage. The numerous jokes regarding the characters' disabilities are woefully misconceived and not very funny.

As the sole female in the cast, Ali Grieb doesn't make a very favorable impression as Helen, the mother of a gay son who has invited her to his wedding. Part of the problem is that the bulk of her dialogue is made up of phone calls in which we only hear Helen's end of the conversation, and the actress isn't able to pull them off convincingly. Bill Purdy, as Helen's husband Jack, fares better, but is underutilized.

Purdy is also featured prominently in the next and final scene as an older man who brings 20-year-old Josh (Scott Lilly) on his first trip to Vegas. Unfortunately for all involved, Josh has no recollection of how he got there, or why he's woken up naked next to this man old enough to be his father. Marshall plays the first part of the scene in a broadly farcical style then switches to heavy melodrama with a confessional monologue from Josh that is such an abrupt shift in tone that it's liable to leave you with theatrical whiplash.


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