Regional Reviews: San Francisco
Breakfast with Scot is a Smart Comedy
Also see Richard's review of Marga Gomez's Intimate Details
Ed Decker, artistic director of the New Conservatory Theatre Center, commissioned Michael Downing to turn the best seller into a stage comedy. The play was supposed to premiere last season, but Breakfast with Scot has opened Pride Season 10 at the New Conservatory Theatre Center. Decker, who is directing the two hour one intermission production, has assembled a great cast, including amazing 13-year-old Sam Garber making his professional debut.
Breakfast with Scot centers around a gay couple in the Boston area who have good paying jobs, a great lifestyle, good friends and a long romantic relationship between them. They have no yearning for the joyful mysteries of parenthood. Ed (Javier Galito-Cava), the editor of an Italian art magazine and somewhat fey, and Sam (Scott Cox) remind me of the two main characters in La Cage aux Folles and The Birdcage. Into their lives comes an 11-year-old Quentin Crisp complete with a musical hairbrush and two makeup kits, singing Broadway show tunes. He even has pink "dancing dog" slippers.
Sam made a drunken promise to his older brother Billy (Elias Escobedo) that if anything happened to him or his live-in girlfriend Julie, Sam would raise the young boy. Julie (Stephanie Temple), seen as an apparition during the play, passed away and Billy has disappeared to Peru (he works at the embassy in Lima, it is revealed later). Julie has also made Sam and Ed the legal guardians of the flamboyant kid. Scot is enrolled in the fifth grade and this is where we find the three at the beginning of the play.
Scot is a wise and very knowledgeable kid but really doesn't know if he is gay or straight; judging by his actions and paraphernalia, he is on the road to being gay. Salon.com describes him as "a dainty, prepubescent Holden Caulfield with a thing for neckerchiefs" - and he has a thing for feather boas. It should be pointed out that the legal guardians are not pointing him that way since they have given him a list of "forbidden" gay items.
Playwright Michael Downing has wisely set up a great prologue which Ed gives to the audience before the actual action begins. What follows are quirky episodes about sexual categories and child rearing. Some of the opening scenes have a sitcom quality about them, but the dialogue is sardonic and wry. The scenes with the three characters are beautifully timed and funny. The first act sets up the great and loving relationship they have while the actual drama occurs in the second act when father Billy shows up. Downing has put in some very clever zingers on how this all turns out.
Breakfast with Scot boasts a top quality ensemble cast. Sam Garber is a perfect delight and one of the most natural young actors I have seen in a long time. This actor already has great professionalism with a marvelous if somewhat nasal voice, with great emphasis on words, that would go well in a larger theatre. His reactions to the other characters are perfect, and he never hogs the stage. The young actor enters high school in the fall with emphasis on theatre arts.
Javier Galito-Cava (Legion, Queen of the Tango) is excellent in the role of Ed, the fey art connoisseur who loves to look at a painting by Grotto. His opening and side remarks to the audience are very engaging. He gives a very smooth performance. Scott Cox (many NCTC roles including Southern Baptist Sissies, Corpus Christi and The Food Chain) once again proves to be a good actor, as the most masculine of the group. Although his role is not showy, he underplays it, placating the character.
Elisas Escobedo (Southern Baptist Sissies and Last Sunday in June) is fine as Billy, a man who has very little knowledge of his own son. His role is brief but he makes the best of it, especially when he talks about his brother Sam coming out at the high school senior prom. Stephanie Temple (Dirty Blonde) takes on two roles: the imaginary Julia in a picture frame at the rear of the stage and later in the second act as Billy's current girlfriend Mia. She, too, makes the most of her small role as the boisterous, vodka-drinking Southern belle who is not that keen on raising Scot.
Ed Decker's direction is brisk, with no slow spots between the quickly changing scenes. Nancy Mancias has designed some very wild costumes for the young Scot. It seems that every time he appears, he is wearing a new a flamboyant outfit. She also designed the small stage to make it look like the combination living and kitchen area of a well-to-do couple.
Breakfast with Scot plays at the New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco through September 12th For tickets call NCTC box office at 415-861-8972 or on line at www.nctcsf.org.
NCTC will present Bill Russell, Frank Kelly and Albert Evans' Pageant, starting September 18th.