Gently Down the Stream

A brief note about the world premiere of Martin Sherman's play, Gently Down the Stream, directed by Sean Mathias, and starring Harvey Fierstein, Gabriel Ebert, and Christopher Sears:

Gently Down the Stream brings us yet another history of the gays. I know that sounds dismissive and insensitive; I mean to be dismissive and insensitive toward the play, not the subject matter. As the play began, and Ebert's Rufus asked Fierstein's Beau questions about his past, I thought it was just DJ Exposition, but then Beau proceeded to directly addressed the audience (ostensibly in a testimonial), and the play turned into a prolonged history lesson. What was it all for? Apparently the purpose of slogging through the first 90 minutes of the 100–minute play was to get to the ending: row, row, row your boat gently down the stream / [sometimes not so] merrily you get to a point where you realize your life's dreams. Frankly, I found it trite, and like a poor adaptation of The Heidi Chronicles—with no urgency. If you like Harvey Fierstein (Casa Valentina), then you'll like his performance and, perhaps, you'll find the content engaging. If not, he's just a drone, a bad vessel for the message. He's playing himself, it seems, whereas his scene partner, Gabriel Ebert (Matilda, Preludes) is playing a dynamic character. (Christopher Sears's Harry serves a function, and is more of a caricature than a character.) Gently Down the Stream is a boring history lecture masquerading as a play.