Joseph Verlezza, Associate New York Critic
In the appropriately titled play “The Waiting Game” by Charles Gershman, what quickly becomes apparent to the audience is that everyone in the play is waiting for something. Sam is in a coma from a drug overdose, waiting to wake up, die while in the coma or have someone terminate his life by pulling the plug. His husband Paolo is waiting for Sam to wake up because he thinks he is communicating with him via Gmail chat. Geoff is Sam’s new boyfriend since Sam left Paolo, and he is waiting for Paolo to grant him conservatorship so he can pull the plug and end Sam’s life. Tyler is Paolo’s new tryst and he is waiting for Paolo to give up drugs and commit to a relationship. Everyone knows everyone else and knows each other is waiting for something to happen so life can begin or for that matter end. Add to the plot drugs, sex, AIDS, and four confused, self- loathing homosexuals and the result is evident or at least self- prophesizing.
The set design by Riw Rakkulchon has made clear certain boundaries. A white outlined rectangle denotes the real playing area and a filmy see through fabric that sometimes lets the audience view Sam, separating conscious from unconscious that also doubles as a screen for projections. All the props needed in the production are lined up on the outside of the playing area behind the white outline. Director Nathan Wright has meticulously choreographed each performer to bring the props relevant to the present scene into the playing area when needed and then returned to their proper assigned place afterwards. This combined with some music, some sex and quite a bit of drug related activity extends the languishing script to a slow seventy minutes.
The play is more about the mechanisms that people use to cope with loss whether it be from death or terminated relationships. The problem here is that we never discover how those people feel as they use these superficial methods that merely postpone the grieving process. The characters seem very two-dimensional lacking emotional depth and not fully developed. The actors do their job but there is not enough to grab onto in order to transcend the material. Unfortunately, the characters that emerge in Mr. Gershman’s script are not at all likable, therefore it is difficult for the audience feel much empathy. It may be time to move forward and leave behind the old narrative of sex, drugs, foolish behavior and romantic melodrama associated with the LGBTQ+ community and examine how their relationships have evolved in today’s social climate.
THE WAITING GAME
The cast features Joshua Bouchard, Julian Joseph, Ibsen Santos, and Marc Sinoway.
The design team includes Riw Rakkulchon (set design); Drew Florida (lighting design); Emma Wilk (sound design); and Kat Sullivan (projection design). The Production Stage Manager is Bonnie McHeffey.
“The Waiting Game” runs for a limited engagement through Sunday, February 23rd, 2019. The performance schedule is Tuesday – Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Single tickets are $25.00 ($20.00 for 59E59 Members). Tickets are available by calling the 59E59 Box Office on 646-892-7999 or by visiting www.59e59.org.
Running time is 70 minutes without intermission.
Photo: Julian Joseph and Marc Sinoway in “The Waiting Game.” Credit: Carol Rosegg.