Dancer From the Dance | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Performing Arts Review

Dancer From the Dance


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


DANCER FROM THE DANCE, About Face Theatre. Twenty-one years ago this corrosively romantic novel by "Andrew Holleran" seemed to many "The Gay Gatsby," a furtive tale of sexual obsession and despair. Its antihero--a young sex god named Malone--gives up law to become the idol of Fire Island. But he remains a small-town dreamer even as his irresistible looks and lack of an inner life draw him into an abusive relationship with a self-hating Italian stallion. Corrupting Malone as Lord Henry did Dorian Gray is Sutherland, a pill-popping, name-dropping, matchmaking sybarite whose wit falls far short of Oscar's ("If Helen Keller can get through life, so can we"). Sutherland turns his pretty protege into a "professional faggot"--which means a glamorous death will soon follow.

Director Eric Rosen's adaptation is relentlessly faithful to the novel's demonic raptures, depicting a rootlessness that connects Manhattan discos to Long Island summer homes to apartment stoops. About Face's supple ensemble effectively suggests the dangerous freedom of the supposed glory days before AIDS. But the evening's brittle badinage, disco posing, and simulated sex evoke an archaeological dig rather than sultry eroticism. Nathan Hilding and Bruch Reed nicely convey the poignancy of Malone's frustrated lovers, and as mean queen Sutherland the scenery-munching Nathan Rankin practically spits his lines across the street. But Jeff Buelterman conveys only Malone's battered innocence and none of his supposed head-snapping gorgeousness. In this work, ordinary fantasies just won't do. --Lawrence Bommer

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Add a comment