Breeze Off The River
nytheatre.com review by Tim Cusack
August 14, 2006
Having written an exercise in wish fulfillment inexplicably titled Breeze Off The River (neither natural phenomenon makes an appearance), Kyle Baxter makes it abundantly clear by the third scene that his understanding of simple human interactions is as shaky as his grasp of the laws of cause and effect. Ostensibly an uplifting tale about the possibility of straight and gay men learning to live together in equal partnership, the plot takes a long time to wind its way to Baxter's feel-good ending. While waiting to get there, the audience is asked to swallow more implausibilities than the White Queen before breakfast, starting with the preposterous notion that a successful Wall Street investment banker would quit his six-figure job to play Mr. Mom so that his moderately successful actress wife can rehearse a play (!) and tend to her commercial career. (Did anyone point out to Baxter during rehearsals how little purchasing power Equity minimum gets you nowadays?)
But than again such financial irresponsibility would seem to fit in with his characterization of Rebecca as a selfish, narcissistic, conniving bitch who can only think five minutes into the future. (I would be offended by the misogyny of the creation except he seems equally unable to write a convincing male character.) And making her the embodiment of heterosexist privilege—cynically exploiting the legal system's inherent homophobia in her custody fight for her son—comes across as a dishonest and phony ploy.
So, how did her little one come to be cared for by a ring of fairy godfathers? Well, you see, gay Sean and straight Eric meet one day by accident at the gym (there was a double booking in the boxing ring), they spar a few rounds, and fall instantly into...friendship. Sean invites Eric to a poker game at his house later that night, or maybe it's later that week—regardless, it's the kind of bizarrely inappropriate invitation any real New Yorker would run from in the opposite direction. When Eric arrives at the party, he realizes that everyone there is, gasp, homosexual. Then he comes home from the party and Rebecca asks for a divorce. Then the next morning he asks Sean if he and his son can temporarily move in with Sean (they've known each other less than a week at this point). Then Rebecca finds out her soon-to-be-ex is living with a gay man. Then she hatches a scheme to...oh, never mind. Let's face it: None of this bears any resemblance to reality.
Not helping the suspension of disbelief is the sloppy direction and acting that, in general, betrays the cast's apparent inexperience. The one exception is Brian Linden's Alex. Playing Sean's horny, wise-cracking, choreographer gay best friend (now that's something we haven't seen before), Linden miraculously manages to make every one of his lines sound like a spontaneous human utterance. Oh, and for once in a gay play, the cast actually looks like real people, not exiles from the Abercrombie & Fitch catalog. Now there's something we really haven't seen before.