Scenes From My Love Life | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Scenes From My Love Life


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Scenes From My Love Life, at the Theatre Building.

Ronnie Larsen seems to prefer the security of recognition to the shock. The strategy behind his play--a tell-all gay production from San Francisco--is to push so many buttons that by the end audience members will see themselves or their stories onstage, for better or worse, in sickness or in health.

Dispatches from San Francisco's sexual front, Scenes From My Love Life depicts gay singles and couples in well-worn situations and crises. We eavesdrop on Jerker-like sex addicts who lie about their bodies to trigger phone sex or set up blind dates. Vignettes depict the drill-like routines of young hopefuls dressing up (or down) for a night at the bars (accompanied by "You're So Vain"), a man's agony over a misplaced personal ad, various self-defeating pickups and sexual strutting, and sudden flashes of AIDS paranoia. Interrupting the episodes are torch songs crudely lip-synched by Larsen himself. In an inspired simile the men's cruising is compared to salmon spawning, but nothing onstage carries that sense of urgency. Still, like Bailiwick Repertory's The Ballad of Little Mikey (playing next door), Larsen's piece casts a net wide enough to catch several seminal stories. And he refuses to substitute political cheerleading and sexual celebration for truth telling. Indeed, most scenes show how fear or sex or fear of sex can cut love off.

Director Mitch Ellis, who appeared in the play's first production, stages Scenes with a strange sluggishness. Only world-shaking revelations deserve a pace this stately: Larsen's pungent observations should be treated briskly and with verve.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Donald Jones Photography.

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