John Leguizamo is schooling us nightly on Latin History for Morons in the Anspacher Theater within the Public Theater complex, trying to condense three thousand years of Latino history into 100 minutes of high-energy festive and informative fun.
In another theatre, the Martinson, delivered by the gravely voiced Harvey Fierstein (a Tony Award winner for both Torch Song Trilogy, Hairspray), we are being taught the history of gay liberation over the last 50 years or so in the beautifully poetic, Gently Down the Stream.
Our pseudo-teacher is Beau (Fierstein), a sixty-ish pianist, who grew up gay in New Orleans as the son of a gangster somewhere around the later half of the 1900’s and lived his life playing cabarets around the world. It is through the 2000’s in London that we are invited in to watch him open his heart, once again, with trepidation and unease, to a young very complex man, Rufus, portrayed with fetching appeal by Gabriel Ebert (Fierstein’s Casa Valentina, Roundabout’s Thérèse Raquin).
Later on, Beau is challenged to embrace another young man, Harry, played with roguish aplomb by Christopher Sears (LCT3’s The Harvest), into his life. We are privy to numerous historical monologues of love and attachment, told with brutal honesty by Beau, where we find the core of this sentimental and moving personal tale.
Beau, wonderfully vulnerable and frightened by previous loves and losses, tries valiantly to embrace a new opportunity for romance. We find him living quite comfortably in London in 2001 in a spectacularly soul-telling apartment, designed with perfection by Derek McLane (Noises Off). Within these cluttered walls, Beau invites Rufus in for the first time, happy but wary of this curious young lover.
Expertly written by Martin Sherman (Rio Grande, Bent), with an exacting insight into the inner thoughts of a fairly centered out gay man who’s grown up dealing with homophobia through the late 19th century, and come out the other end of the storm. With a smartly scripted first interaction, we are …. (for the full review: click here)