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Big Dicks on Stage

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BIG DICKS ON STAGE, Bailiwick Repertory. In this comedy by prolific Australian playwright Steven Dawson, idealistic gay writer Daniel has penned a script about two middle-aged lovers but is forced by his producers to change his characters into young studs who appear nude. Otherwise, it's argued, a gay audience won't go near the play.

The premise is plausible but Dawson wants it both ways, seeking to simultaneously condemn and exploit the gay crowd's desire to see hot men with no clothes on. His title is transparent bait for gay patrons, though you wonder if the audience thus brought in will know how much it's being insulted. Daniel sells out stupidly and soon. And the rest of this lengthy work pursues a thuddingly predictable subplot: two young actors fall in love offstage as well as on.

Brian Kirst's broad, torpid staging is as blatant as the writing, worsening a script already crammed with showbiz cliches and bitchy put-downs. The show founders on the eight cast members' unmotivated mugging, stiff blocking, and wooden declamation. Whatever credibility Michael Annetta as Daniel achieves through concentrated acting is undermined by the character's whiny carping. And the performers rarely escape the mediocrity of the dialogue, though Maura Pheney has fun with her hard-boiled lesbian stage manager. But why bother? Anyone who sees the piece for its title deserves whatever he gets. --Lawrence Bommer

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