“Can’t blame old dudes for wanting to see me naked!” says an insouciant young actor named Stephen (the sly Jason Zeren) in writer-director Tim Aumiller’s piquantly disruptive gay drama, Luke Nicholas. He knows what he’s selling, and so does the play: Its postcard features a shapely male butt in a jockstrap, and the audience at the sold-out performance I attended was roughly 95 percent male. The show’s unapologetic attitude toward sexiness exists in fruitful tension with the plot, in which love means having to say you’re sorry pretty much constantly. Thomas (Colin Key) is a neurotic would-be theatrical auteur who—on a weekend trip to Montreal with his longtime boyfriend, Jonathan (Sean Hankinson)—fell wallet-first in love with a seductively friendly stripper at a local flesh bar. Now he has written a play about it, and art imitates life (with an edge of mockery) as Jonathan, playing Thomas, begins an affair with Stephen, the actor playing the exotic dancer. Or is that too only part of the play? As Luke Nicholas moves forward, it pulls back the theatrical frame to surprise us with new layers of metatheatrical artifice, even as it delves more deeply into the relationships and issues at stake. Aumiller and his talented cast pull a classic bait and switch: Come for the nudity, stay for the emotional and structural striptease.—Adam Feldman
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