Posing Strap Pirates
by Michael Van Duzer
directed by Laura Lee Bahr
The Eclectic Company Theatre
through December 10 only: Thurs at 8 pm and Fri, Sat at 10 pm
Back in the 50s and 60s when it was hardly kosher to even mention homosexuality, there existed a raft of pulp fiction novels along with popular physique magazines in the underground that kept gay men somewhat pleased and happy while they had to hide their sexual preferences from public view. Playwright Michael Van Duzer has created a campy, silly play that exhibits the man-to-man appeal of that time period entitled Posing Strap Pirates now onstage at the Eclectic Company Theatre through December 10.
Copying a story about pirates on the high seas, about a barberous captain and damsels in distress, with maties forced to submit or walk the plank, it turns this world upside down by making the captain and his maties ...gay. The damsels in distress are, in fact, boys, and the treacherous captain a lustfully villainous daddy. Van Duzer uses a narrator in full Amadeus Mozart costume (Paul Duffy) with powdered white wig and long pink coat-tails at the piano - I thought at first I was seeing Liberace, who serves up the story in the pulp fiction style using very proper English to disclose some pretty lurid, scandalous details. The seamen's asides and reactions provide heaps of laughs; most of the humor emanates from these no.place.for.subtlety movements and actions, as where two of the mates break into a dance. At one point the narrator is shushed by the actors and asked to leave the room. Very funny!
The entire ensemble are great with Kerr Seth Lordygan stealing the hour as Captain Rake Matelot. Hairy chested and bald, he struts around like a horny leather daddy, seething with lust and threatening the worst if he doesn't get any. David Robert May is perfectly cast as Toye Buck the young boy from the sugar plantation engaged to be married who senses his real destiny lies elsewhere. He yearns, not for Rake, but for Cabin Boy Beau Ideal, the handsome, sexy muscle man who is every gay man's dream, played to campy perfection by Jeffrey Patrick Olson. Jonathon Lamer is delightfully drole as Sabre and Mason Hallberg gives us quite the surprise as Bilge. John Dickey is full of surprises as well as Brother Pierre. Amazing that a woman Laura Lee Bahr has directed this kind of material with such flair, wrenching every nuance of comedy from her actors.
This is a fun evening of theatre that should not be taken too seriously. What is most engaging is Van Duzer's fine literate words that copy so expertly the style of the cheap novels. The cast and direction are delicious, and you'll have a great time! There's also enough manly flesh afloat to keep one's attention keenly riveted. Shiver Me Timbers, what a dazzlingly colorful array of jock...I mean... posing straps!
4 out of 5 stars