The production opens with a 1970s style clip from the iconic Boys in the Sand, where Casey Donovan, looking like a bronzed Mussolini-god, leaps through the water nude until the clip cuts to Donovan with another man’s hand on his stomach.
My Dinner with Casey Donovan, written and directed by Sky Gilbert, exhibits a hot-and-cold story about a dinner between sex-positive porn star Donovan and his unconfident, closeted, fan-girl admirer Calvin – and Calvin’s conservative Lutheran parents.
Calvin, played by Michael De Rose, is an insufferable, anxious man-child with uncontrollable “OH MY GODS.” Calvin suffers from the so-called condition “constitutional laxity,” an ailment that prohibits him from having any muscular definition. The man of his dreams, Donovan, played by Nathaniel Bacon, totally juxtaposes Calvin. Donovan steps on stage with an apparent air of sexiness. As he walked pass me in his tight Canadian tuxedo, flaunting chest hair and aviators I could even smell the overly strong musk he wore. Bacon is calm, cool and collected and plays the role perfectly. Donovan provides Calvin with a crash-course in going with the flow, making obvious remarks about how normal people would handle the situation.
The two large shrubs used in the first scene are moved to the side to reveal a dinner table set for the suave guest. Calvin’s parents Charles and Rita Limehouse, played by Ralph Small and Elley-Ray, are immediately taken aback by Donovan’s “cultured” demeanor, from his taste in opera to his knowledge of fine wine. While Charles Limehouse is not the most likable character with his hot temper and continuous digs at whether or not everyone in the arts scene is bisexual, Ray steals the scene as she embodies the overly coddling Mum mannerisms, with her quirky high pitched squeals and cliché “change the channel” saying.
The play receives quite a few laughs, but after the dinner everything changes. The play turns quite serious and while I enjoyed Bacon’s unexpected rage in his monologue regarding sexual politics for gay men, the seriousness of the subject would have been received well earlier on.
The play shifts focus from nuanced shallow dialogue to irate action and verbal abuse. The 70-minute production held cyclical conversations that could have easily been summed up within the first scene.
My Dinner With Casey Donovan will run until March 22 at Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace, 16 Ryerson Ave.
photo by: Seanna Kennedy