Nothing But Trash
The love that dare not speak its name runs shirtless into Theater for the New City.
Raging alcoholism, homosexual incest, chronic glue-sniffing, gratuitous chest-baring, and chewed scenery everywhere are just a few of the theatrical delights awaiting audiences of the campy comedy Nothing But Trash, now playing at Theater for the New City. Directed by G.R. Johnson, this gay send-up of 1950s films such as Peyton Place and Reform School Girl lives up to its title in the best possible way.
Troy (Rory Max Kaplan) and Tab (Tim McGarrigal) are two model young men growing up in 1950s America, until they awkwardly discover their sexual attraction for each other at a resort owned by Tab's father, Richard (John Kevin Jones). Turns out that Troy's mother, Beatrice (the play's author, Andy Halliday), a self-described "raging alcoholic," had an affair with Richard years ago. Does that make Troy and Tab brothers? Yuck! Then in an outlandish twist, Troy gets himself sent to juvie for...attempted murder, is it? — and there he becomes a roughneck named Silver. Boyfriend Tab winds up there too for some crime involving garden shears.
And that's just Act 1. The second act plays like a gay West Side Story. The juvenile home for delinquents is bursting with tough-talking, homoerotic bad boys whose over-the-top accents would put any Jet to shame. These guys have names like Switchblade (played by Andrew Glaszek) and Sledge (played by Tim Burke), and together they rebel against the detention center's Dr. Evil doppelgänger, the sadomasochistic Warden Sizemore (Jeffrey Vause). After the lusty thugs bust everyone out of juvie, Troy and Tab manage to get their criminal cases reopened and are found innocent of all charges. But will their love be able to survive the homophobic 1950s?
With absurd stock characters, including a malicious one-eyed gardener (also Vause), an incredibly cheesy script, ridiculously melodramatic situations, and hammy dialogue, Nothing But Trash entertains most because it does bad so good. Under Johnson's direction, each actor sets his histrionic dial to 11 and brilliantly mimics the subpar acting found in classic B movies.
It would be disingenuous to suggest that the play's physically appealing cast is not one of the production's attractions, and no doubt that aspect of the show will draw gay audiences. David Errigo Jr. plays Angel, the play's mini muscle cub who runs gratuitously shirtless about the stage after he's jilted by Troy, and Steven Wenslawski as Falcon never misses an opportunity to lift his arms and flex his biceps — storyline be damned.
Along with most of the actors, the set, designed by Jonathan Collins, also goes bare, with little more than a stage, a curtain, and a background suggesting a prison. This gives the actors plenty of room for a dance routine inspired by the West Side Story "Cool" scene.
The play's dénouement includes a call to legalize gay marriage. But political messages aren't the reason you'll want to check out Nothing But Trash. Even if the campy humor isn't to your taste, there's always those naked torsos to stare at.