After Dark | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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After Dark, Bailiwick Repertory. In this gay romantic comedy, playwright Steve Kluger shows his mastery of the art of banter and nails the little things that get our hearts beating, like the way someone wears jeans or knows baseball. Best of all, there are no stereotypes--and the actors stay clothed.

Ryan is a geeky attorney who reads the Sporting News while Craig is a politically savvy layabout recently fired from a job at Disneyland because he was fooling around with one of the Seven Dwarves. In the first half they meet in a California diner; in the second they meet again in the same place, five years after their first meeting and ten months after breaking up. Any fan of romantic comedies will know what happens next, but the resolution is so sweetly done that its predictability is almost welcome.

Patrick Rybarczyk is affable as the flirty former football player Craig, but Cory Shiffern is awkward and lacking in charisma as closed-up lawyer Ryan. There are no sparks between them in Brian Kirst's staging, and both stumble around the repartee, but the play is smart and witty enough to hold its own. Those looking for something beneath the banter, however, will be disappointed--HIV is a throwaway plot point, and for all the characters' talk about activism, little in the play is actually activist.

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