Party | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader


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PARTY, Bailiwick Repertory. If Party is any evidence, David Dillon is one of the least skilled playwrights in America. The show may have had hit productions all over the country since it opened here in 1992, but even with all that time to revise--and supposedly he has revised it--Dillon still hasn't written a scene, focused the dialogue, or created more than one multidimensional character.

But then Dillon has no interest in such things. Party isn't a play at all but a communal fantasy for seven performers that requires more candor than acting chops. For nearly two hours the men play a version of truth or dare, exposing themselves both emotionally and physically. Director Kevin P. Hill may have only a rudimentary understanding of blocking and pace, but he knows how to keep his actors in states of disarming vulnerability--and by the time the show is half over, even the greenest performers seem to be speaking straight from the heart. At that point Dillon's genius becomes apparent, as he captures the gloriously campy bonds that often unite gay men despite their diverse backgrounds.

Some may call this feel-good nudie show mere wish fulfillment, but Dillon craftily articulates gay male culture's easy approach to sexual pleasure, showing how varied and fluid such intimacy can be. And if he's made a bundle from his sexual honesty, my hat's off to him.

--Justin Hayford


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