nytheatre.com review by Roger Nasser
June 4, 2009
Everybody keeps secrets from each other, some are mundane and some can really be devastating if found out. In Alternative Theater Company's Dirty Secrets, keeping secrets is what is at the heart of this drama. Dirty Secrets is a mostly enjoyable show. As the play starts off, Shane is coming home from work and answers the phone. The phone call is for Nick, Shane's boyfriend. Shane answers somewhat gruffly saying that Nick isn't home, but as the phone call continues Nick enters the apartment and asks who is on the phone. Shane doesn't really want Nick to talk to Tom, who is on the other end. Nick persists and gets the phone. Apparently Tom is calling to ask Nick if he can crash there for a while, having just broken up with his live-in boyfriend Carl. Nick, being the genuine nice guy that he is, allows Tom to stay with them, even after Shane's vocal refusal.
As the play progresses we learn the reason that Tom left his boyfriend Carl was because he found out that Carl had cheated with Shane. Tom blackmails Shane and threatens to steal Nick away from him if he doesn't do what he wants. Shane pleads with him not to tell Nick and swears to do whatever he has to to save his relationship. Tom manipulates the situation and flirts with Nick and the two express feelings that they have for one another. Everything seems to work out in the end, or so we think—but the play then takes a very unexpected turn that really did not make any sense.
The cast is a bit uneven. Jason Romas is a delight as Nick; his performance is extremely consistent and helps ground the show. Matt Weaver is fine as Shane but seemed a bit off in some scenes. Joe Marshall has some nice moments as Tom but his performance is very uneven. There should have been some more subtleties in Tom, especially to justify the ending of the show.
Marshall also wrote the script. The story is enjoyable for the most part but sometimes the dialogue comes off as trite and cliched—does every play with gay characters have to include a conversation about Liza or Barbra? The main problem I have with the script, though, is the ending—unfortunately I can't say what it is because that would ruin the shock—but the ending comes from absolutely nowhere. There should have been a moment of foreshadowing earlier in the show, or more nuance in Tom's character to show the audience more of who he really is. The ending of the play would have had more of an impact if there were perhaps clues throughout the show that justified Tom's actions.
Another problem that I had with the evening was that there was no curtain call. I know that a curtain call is not part of the play, but I feel that it is an important moment for the audience to have closure with the performance and to give praise to the actors. It made me think that perhaps the cast was unhappy with their performances or the play.
Dirty Secrets has an interesting premise and some nice moments but ultimately ends on an unexpected sour note.