Regional Reviews: San Francisco
An Entertaining 90 minutes of
Also see Richard's review of A Couple of Blaguards
As part of their Pride Season Ten, The New Conservatory Theatre Center is presenting the world premiere of Sex and Mayhem, written and performed by Donald Currie. It runs in the small band box theatre through October 10. Don Seaver, who wrote original music to Currie's solo performance, is on piano. The piece is about Currie growing up gay in San Francisco in the 1950s and early '60s. His writing is full of snappy comments and great insights of the gay male growing up during those times. He is so right when he says "you could get arrested just by going into a gay bar."
Donald talks about his early childhood, living with his parents and secretly reading muscle magazines and dreaming of erotic male sex. He had a wonderful, encouraging grandmother who took him to the Fox Theatre, a movie palace on Market Street. When the grandmother became incapacitated, he would go weekly to the movie house and come home to entertainer her as the female leads like Marilyn Monroe, Arlene Dahl and others of those times. He even did Ethel Merman singing in the film Call Me Madam. He tried the Monroe imitation on his parents and they said very strongly, "Go to your room."
Currie speaks of going to college and getting involved with a drama group. He tells us of his first big love affair with the theatre professor named Joseph, after the season on a beach in Oregon. When Currie enters the Age of Aquarius in our fair city, he becomes a full time flower child. He and Joseph rent a mansion in Pacific Heights for $1000 a month and many of the followers move in to share love throughout the planet. Of course, the neighbors are not too happy since they have wild and wonderful parties with a lot drug use. We meet other wonderful characters, especially the untamed and charismatic blond Mickey who can pick up anyone just by his charm. He becomes Donald's lover and later his "sister."
There is a dark side to Currie's story. It is the seamier side of his life after he hippie era when he stood on the corner under a lamp post on Polk Street hoping for a one night trick. He says he is there until "the garbage trucks pull up," and he then goes home alone. Joseph descends into madness due to drugs, but somehow our hero survives to tell a four-part audio equivalent of "Tales of the City" that becomes an underground success.
Currie tells these stories at breakneck speed, sometimes going just a little over the top in his acting. There is a lot of Charles Pierce in his performance. This docu-comedy is very interesting for people who grew up in the '50s and '60s, and to the new generation who will get a feel of what it was like to be gay in a world of straight people.
Sex and Mayhem runs at the New Conservatory Theatre Center through October 10. Tickets can be obtained by calling the box office at 415-861-8972 or on line at www.nctcsf.org.
The Return of Kinsey Sicks Oy Vey in a Manger with several new songs comes back November 26 through December 31. Pageant is still playing at the large Ed Decker house at NCTC.