A young gay man breaks into an empty theatre in the middle of the night. He has brought a well-marked copy of Wicca & Witchcraft for Dummies and some necessary talismans. He intends to conduct a ritual to heal the broken heart of the lover he rejected. Instead he conjures up a bunch of bickering old gay men. So it goes in David LeBarron’s First Elders, presented by APT 3F as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival.
The elders who appear are not the expected icons such as Harry Hay or Morris Kight, or even Michael Kearns who was in the audience. The elders are not icons but archetypes—the bitchy queen, the sex-obsessed groper, the conservative looking for love, the spa master, etc. They are given more to making speeches than engaging in meaningful dialogue. The material might work better if written as a short story. There is not much theatricality in the writing as it is or in the staging by director Andrew Henkes. The cast is amateurish, posturing more than emoting. The play doesn’t even serve as a history lesson although Stonewall, AIDS and a few other milestones are mentioned in passing. Young gays would be better served by watching documentaries such as Before Stonewall, After Stonewall, Word is Out, The Times of Harvey Milk and others. First Elder’s best asset is its brevity—less than an hour.
Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd. in Hollywood. Ends June 28. www.hollywoodfringe.org