THE SUM OF US, Lucid Theatre Productions, at the Preston Bradley Center for the Arts. Through its simple investigation of love, loneliness, and the human condition, The Sum of Us manages to avoid focusing exclusively on either gay or straight issues. In this respect David Stevens's comedy about a father and son living together in an industrial suburb outside Melbourne, Australia, is especially incisive.
Unfortunately, despite an abundance of tension, there's a dearth of true conflict in the play. When the most heated argument between Jeff, a twentysomething gay man, and Harry, his quirky father, concerns whether to have lasagna or a roast for dinner, the pair is doomed to find neither catharsis nor happiness. As a study in codependency the play's a success, but as a piece of theater it's too stilted to have any resonance. Stevens's dialogue is long-winded, and his breaking of the fourth wall, usually a bold device, is flippant and muddled.
Bradley C. Woodard as Jeff and Dennis D. Stewart as Harry do a credible job of capturing the tiny neuroses of their characters. But the uninventive staging and design suggest that Lucid Theatre is content to let the play speak for itself. That's unfortunate: the play takes itself too seriously, while the production doesn't take itself seriously enough, making it hard for us to take either seriously at all.