A gay story we haven’t yet seen onstage may seem about as hard to imagine as John Travolta without an angry denial, and yet that is precisely what playwright Brandon Baruch has treated us to in NO HOMO—A Bromantic Tragedy, as funny and crowd-pleasingly satisfying a gay play as I’ve seen in a good long while.
20somethings Ash (Jonny Rodgers) and Luke (Benjamin Durham) have been inseparable besties since college, so much so that everyone they know, including Ash’s gay brother Serge (AJ Jones) and Luke’s just-out sister Chrissy (Lizzie Adelman), assumes them to be a couple. In fact, even Ash and Luke themselves may harbor suspicions that the other is gay.
Still, all speculation aside, our bff heroes do appear to be decidedly “No Homo,” that is until undeniable love and unexpected circumstances prompt them to wonder, “What if?”
Figuring prominently along the way are Serge’s boyfriend Kris (Henry McMillan), who takes their open relationship the more openly of the two, and Luke’s girlfriend Babette (Elizabeth Ellson), who’s beginning to wonder when and if she and taking-it-slow Luke will ever go all the way.
Ash and Luke and their entourage do indeed have their human shortcomings, but they are utterly engaging throughout, as is No Homo, its audience reaction (laughter, gasps, sighs, cheers, and tears) revealing just how invested Baruch has us in his characters’ lives and in their futures, whether together or apart.
No Homo’s funny, clever, snappy writing is made even funnier, cleverer, and snappier by Jessica Hanna inventive direction.
There’s not a weak link in No Homo’s all-around terrific cast, with a deep-digging Rodgers’ charismatic Ash and McMillan’s acidic take on WeHo queendom proving particular standouts.
Scenic designer David Offner’s imaginative, detailed set and Brittany Blouch’s myriad props are about as un-Fringy as they get. Top marks go too to Laura Wong’s character-defining costumes and Corwin Evans’ dance club-ready sound design, and despite circuitry issues at the performance reviewed, Ric Zimmerman’s lighting design is topnotch.
Film No Homo and you’ll have a Festival-pleasing gay indie favorite. Give it the fully-staged production it deserves and some lucky L.A. 99-seat theater will have a crowd-pleasing hit on its hands.