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Hypnotik

HIM

Clifford Streit's play about a homosexual actor whose relationship is threatened by his agent's machinations benefits from some clever quips, believable characters, and ample displays of male flesh.

By New York City
Jon Fleming and Todd Alan Crain in HIM
(© Michael Mallard)
Jon Fleming and Todd Alan Crain in HIM
(© Michael Mallard)
The 60 minutes of Clifford Streit's new play, HIM, at the Cherry Lane Studio, breeze by pleasingly enough, thanks in large part to Streit's clever way with a well-timed quip (or bitchy line) and an ample display of well-sculpted male flesh.

Unfortunately, the work's surprising brevity (a full-length version is in the works), Streit's sometimes slack direction, and the play's surface similarities to Douglas Carter Beane's The Little Dog Laughed end up robbing HIM of fulfilling its potential.

The work opens in the modest New York apartment of Nick Cooper (the impressively sculpted, decidedly earnest Jon Fleming), an actor on the immediate verge of major stardom, and his longtime partner, Matthew (Todd Alan Crain), a screenwriter still struggling with success and the need to distance himself from his wealthy family.

Their romantic breakfast -- prepared by Nick -- is soon interrupted by the not-so-welcome arrival of Nick's hard-nosed agent Margo (Lindsay Goranson), who is determined to see her client become a superstar -- at the possible expense of the couple's domestic bliss. She starts small -- making sure Matthew is not photographed with Nick at his film premiere -- but soon moves on to more drastic measures.

Her biggest plan, which she executes with surprising ease, is getting an ambitious and beautiful Latina actress named Rana (Roxi Sorina) to act as Nick's beard. Of course, it comes as no surprise when we learn that Margo's motives aren't purely professional.

Streit's situations aren't always completely fresh, but they do ring of authenticity. Moreover, his characters are mostly well-defined -- with the exception of Nick's publicist James (a slightly bland James Sautter), whose act of betrayal doesn't jibe with his long friendship with Matthew.

Aside from Fleming's pecs, the production's strongest asset is Crain, who is utterly believable and thoroughly sympathetic as Matthew. Goranson makes Margo just enough of a monster, without completely alienating the audience; Sorina gives three full dimensions to the smarter-than-she-seems Rana; and Patrick Duke Conboy is quite good as Margo's not-so-nice and not-so-bright boy toy Diego.


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