Burning Blue | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Burning Blue

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Burning Blue, Circle Theatre. You might expect a play about a witch hunt for homosexuals in the navy to be progressive, but this 1998 script is thoroughly unenlightened. Though playwright D.M.W. Greer has firsthand knowledge of military life, his script is pat rather than penetrating. And the authorial point of view must be terribly lopsided when the only person tolerant of homosexuality is a hick with a heart who shares his own story--about having sex with a pig.

In an unbearable number of flashbacks, naval aviator Dan realizes he's gay and finds love with fellow flier Matt. But on the day they decide to be together, Matt dies. Instead of investigating the accident, however, navy security explores Dan's sexuality. The security guys--a caricatured homophobe and his stunningly ineffective partner--harass Dan and his friends and squadron mates in predictable ways, making for a drawn-out, facile 140 minutes.

Worse still are the overwrought production and bombastic cast, directed by Jeffrey Cass. All the military men are arrogant and angry, although Jason Thompson as Dan does deliver some unconvincing bursts of fey behavior once he decides to embrace his homosexuality. Cass and his cast need to realize that talking loud and fast doesn't make a play dramatic. Nuance might help, as would doing away with Cass's awkward set, which demands many annoying scene changes.

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