The Dying Gaul

By Shewey, Don | The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine), July 7, 1998 | Go to article overview

The Dying Gaul


Shewey, Don, The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)


* Written by Craig Lucas * Directed by Mark Brokaw * Starring Tim Hooper, Tony Goldwyn, and Linda Emond

Grief and rage go hand in hand. Ask playwright Craig Lucas. He's been there. In 1995 after his lover died, the author of Longtime Companion wrote a fierce, now-famous "Postcard From Grief" (first published as a viewpoint in The Advocate and later anthologized in Gay Men at the Millennium). The same raw, scorching emotion clearly fueled the writing of his latest off-Broadway play, The Dying Gaul, set in Los Angeles in 1995 and given its inaugural production May 31-June 14 at New York City's Vineyard Theatre.

The title refers to a screenplay by Robert (Tim Hopper), whose lover and agent, Malcolm, has died of AIDS. The screenplay is about--surprise--a gay man and his lover who has AIDS. Hollywood producer Jeffrey (Tony Goldwyn) loves the script. He's already shown it to Gus Van Sant. He wants to buy it. Just a couple of things, though. For the film to reach the widest audience, the main characters can't be gay. And the title has to go. "The Dying Gaul will never, ever, ever, ever, ever be made," the producer flatly assures Robert. A man of integrity and conscience, the writer is on his way out the door when the producer mentions the sum he's willing to pay for the script. It's big. Then he mentions the stars who are interested in the leading roles. They're big too. Finally he pulls Robert into a Hollywood hug and comments on the bulge it produces in his pants, which is apparently big enough to intrigue Robert, who succumbs. After all the producer looks like, well, Tony Goldwyn.

From the setup one might think The Dying Gaul will be a fast, funny, nasty satire about gay Hollywood hypocrisy--a postcard from territory explored by Jon Robin Baitz (Mizlanskyl-Zilinsky) and David Mamet (Speed-the-Plow), among others. But the play goes somewhere else entirely.

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