Desire in a Tinier House is a poetic queer love story—despite the shirtless-boy marketing | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

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Desire in a Tinier House is a poetic queer love story—despite the shirtless-boy marketing

It envisions a queer domestic space we don't normally see onstage.


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I was hesitant as I walked into Pride Films and Plays on Friday night. Though the theater's shows themselves offer powerfully human takes on queer identities, PFP's work is often overshadowed by a shirtless-boy marketing shtick. In terms of queer representation, the image of sweaty, hairless white men is so pervasive and so limiting, a visual language favoring a singular type of transgressive sex and body.

Ryan Oliveira's Desire in a Tinier House is another gorgeous example of this dissonance at work. This new show manages to address both the mundane and the sensational embedded in queer love stories. It's a two-man piece on a simple set, a poetic drama that closely follows the long-term relationship between Argentine American Trevin (Rolando Serrano) and Brazilian American Carlos (Carlos Wagener-Sobrero), using magical realism and dystopian tropes to explore the tender risks of falling in love at the end of the world. Its sensibilities defy the typical "Homos! They're just like us!" plotlines and instead embed questions of urgency, violence, and isolation, creating a truly queer domestic space.

This isn't typically something we see onstage, but this play does an excellent job of balancing the intimate—and occasionally claustrophobic—tedium of cohabitation and the visible spectacle of gay affection, beginning with a casual encounter and then unraveling into total surrealism. The show's remaining question is a hell of a lot truer than PFP's marketing strategy: How can something be so instinctual and so fragile all at once?   v

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