Watch out, Palm Springs: A raging gay storm is descending on your tasteful same-sex wedding. His name is Gerry, and he is the richly tragicomic creation of Drew Droege, the masterful solo writer-performer familiar from his droll online impersonations of Chloë Sevigny. The title of Bright Colors and Bold Patterns comes from a note at the bottom of the invitation to Gerry’s friend’s nuptials, instructing guests not to dress too flashily—which our antihero considers an affront to gay outrageousness. (“Please tell me where I can find khaki on the rainbow.”) Committed to loudness in life as in clothes, he’s a motormouthed mess: drunk and coked up, ceaselessly catty and chatty, bitching about everything. “We celebrate things and make fun of them at the same time,” he explains to the unseen Mack, his best pal’s 23-year-old date. “That’s called gay.”
Gerry is, he admits, “a lot,” and Droege draws his multitudes in a sharply observed and lovingly brutal portrait. The giant blue umbrella that looms above him on the patio is like an extrapolation of the tiny one in his margarita; he lives in his cups. But behind the tart quips and B-list name-dropping—he’s a connoisseur of 1990s pop culture, as an older generation was of black-and-white movies—Gerry guards old wounds of exclusion and heartbreak, dating back decades, that have made him the spiny puffer he is today, inflated with prickly defenses. That's what gives Droege’s show a poignancy beyond its hilarity. Gerry’s hard-won pride now rains on his parade.
Note: Bright Colors and Bold Patterns has returned for a 2017 encore run at the SoHo Playhouse. Click here for full ticket and venue information.
Barrow Street Theatre (Off Broadway). By Drew Droege. Directed by Michael Urie. With Droege. Running time: 1hr 10min. No intermission. Through Dec 30.
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