Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Four. (Theater Review: Two by Two: Parallel Stories about Two Teenagers-One Gay, One Straight-And Their Troubled First Affairs Show off the Talents of Young out Playwright Christopher Shinn)

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Four. (Theater Review: Two by Two: Parallel Stories about Two Teenagers-One Gay, One Straight-And Their Troubled First Affairs Show off the Talents of Young out Playwright Christopher Shinn)

Article excerpt

Four * Written by Christopher Shinn * Directed by Jeff Cohen * Starring Keith Nobbs, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Pascale Armand, and Armando Riesco * Manhattan Theatre Club, New York City * Through March 31

Christopher Shinn's Four eloquently captures the things people don't say on their way to not getting the love they want. Its quartet of characters couple up on the Fourth of July, hoping for fireworks. In the parking lot of an abandoned department store, June (Keith Nobbs), a painfully shy gay white suburban 16-year-old, meets Joe (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), an expansive black 40-ish married English teacher whom he met online. Joe is a nightmare of inappropriate behavior--he asks what writers June admires and then trashes his opinions; takes him to the movies, where he loudly asks personal questions and makes a call on his cell phone; and eats nonstop. June cringes, dodges Joe's touch, looks like he's about to bolt any second, and yet remains tethered to this stranger by the handcuffs of a desire he can't name but can only fumblingly reveal.

Meanwhile, Joe's daughter Abigayle (Pascale Armand), who's probably June's age, tends her offstage sick mother while doing an elaborate dance of approach and avoidance with schoolmate Dexter (Armando Riesco), who's every inch the stereotype of a jive-talking, basketballplaying homeboy, except that he's a red-haired white kid. She's way too smart for him, challenges his idiotic banter at every mm, and smolders with hostility in his presence. Yet like June, she is starving for sexual contact and is willing to mine acres of masculine obtuseness for an ounce of tenderness. …

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