Bright Colors and Bold Patterns
Actor-playwright Drew Droege dissects gay marriage at the Lex Theatre.
If you're already experiencing a rough week (to say nothing of a crappy life), it shouldn't take much to send you careering over the edge. Whether he realizes how much this truism applies to himself, Gerry, an unhappily single gay man, jumps in his car and angrily lead-foots it from Los Angeles to Palm Springs to attend the wedding of two male friends. The source of his rage? The invitation summoning him to the nuptials of Josh and Brennan contains instructions for what not to wear: no bright colors or bold patterns. The directive is positively an outrage to Gerry who is bright and bold in everything he does.
Playing Gerry is writer-performer Drew Droege, who returns to these noxious instructions repeatedly in his 70-minute comic diatribe, Bright Colors and Bold Patterns, which plays a run of Mondays at the Lex Theatre. Coproduced by the Celebration Theatre and directed by Buyer & Cellar's Michael Urie, Bold Patterns is fueled by its own ultramanic power supply. Droege's motormouthed Gerry can simultaneously suck the air out of a room and get everyone partying. His Hawaiian button-down and matching pink shorts are sedate enough to almost be misleading. Our man is a bold-patterns type of individual, and the play he inhabits works most effectively when it's showing its plumes.
Rolling a suitcase, Gerry arrives at a poolside hotel patio that scenic designer Debra Wishingrad has fashioned with day-glo exactness. A rehearsal dinner is scheduled for that evening and the ceremony is the next day, but here by the pool, the festivities are already underway. Dwayne, Gerry's former roommate and ex-lover, is present along with Dwayne's current boyfriend, Mack, a man not old enough to recognize Gerry's references to 17-year-old Lifetime Channel movies.
Gerry disses and bitches, hilariously taking down everything and everybody and barely pausing long enough to toss back a drink. "Why are we not talking about the invitation!" demands Gerry who is doing all the talking. "No bright colors or bold patterns. Whaaaaaaaat?"
As a longtime friend of Josh, Gerry concludes that the sedateness mandate originates from Brennan's side of the aisle (particularly his patrician mother). The problem here isn't so much Gerry's wardrobe as what the dress restriction implies about a ceremony that, by its very nature, is supposed to discard the shackles of repression. Droege, a funny and convincing party animal, tests our credulity a bit when he asks us to believe that underneath the bacchanalian exterior beats the heart of a man with a cause.
But there you have it. Following a montage of booze, cocaine, dancing, and aftereffects, Droege ramps down the bitchfest ever so slightly and gets down to the business of why we're really here. Everyone leaves for the rehearsal dinner while a bitter and now partied-out Gerry stays behind with Mack to make a kind of connection.
Since much of the early part of Bold Patterns feels like Droege riffing, it's difficult to determine how much structure director Urie is bringing to this dance. Buyer & Cellar (which Urie starred in, but did not direct) also dealt comically with the demons of isolation. Droege is trying to take us somewhere, and you get the sense that the director knows how to pilot that journey.
In the end, Gerry's protective walls finally come down, and with his faith ever so slightly restored, he faces a new day. As much as we loved the angry reveling goofball, we'll take the hopeful optimist he has become. Bright Colors and Bold Patterns ends, improbably, with a sunrise, but that sunrise is earned.