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Fucking Men

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Like Michael John LaChiusa’s Hello Again and David Hare’s The Blue Room, DiPietro’s 2008 play takes as its inspiration Arthur Schnitzler’s La Ronde, depicting a daisy chain of sexual encounters. But as the title suggests, DiPietro turns the boy-girl-boy-girl structure of the previous plays to boy-boy-boy-boy, setting his sights on contemporary gay men.

And contemporary gay men, in DiPietro’s world, are dropping trou at the drop of a hat, having sex in parks, saunas, hotels and broom closets. The playwright is faithful to Schnitzler’s patterns, making his characters recognizable modern analogues to La Ronde’s 19th-century archetypes. That translation comes with hints of cliché—the closeted action-movie star, the porn star with a heart of gold—and DiPietro, the author of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change as well as a recent Tony winner for the musical Memphis, seems more comfortable with quippy comedy than with serious scenes. (The quips can be very funny, as when a tutor tells his bisexual college-student client that he used to be bisexual too. “What happened?” the kid asks; “You’ll find out,” his tutor replies.)

Mullen’s handsome production is matched by a handsome cast, though some have firmer grasps on their characters than others. Ryan Lanning stands out in a hilarious turn as a preening playwright; Beau Forbes as the movie star, Norm Woodel as a TV journalist and Cameron Harms as a hyperactive soldier are terrific as well. If you can overlook DiPietro’s somewhat depressing suggestion that monogamy is a fantasy for gay men, Fucking Men is pretty fucking solid.

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