Hail to our Queen!
“LOST and FOUND and
A Performance of “LOVE SCENES” in Cherry Grove
Day Weekend was a busy time at the Cherry Grove Community House! One of the best shows to come from ‘off island’
in recent times was the holiday weekend performance of “LOVE SCENES”, a series
of six vignettes, covering love relationships, new, old, reclaimed, revisited,
and finally over, well maybe, since hope (in its many manifestations) springs
performance of Moe Bertran in David Pumo’s brilliantly written play was
riveting, and believable, taking us on an intimate trip into the love lives and
relationships of six gay New Yorkers.
Bertran’s exceptional talent and steely concentration in delivering each
character’s personality captivated the audience. It provided that ‘I forgot I
was sitting in the theater’ feeling throughout the show. The pace of the action was almost non-stop,
including between scenes when the audience, turned voyeurs, watched as Bertran
retired to his on-stage ‘dressing room’ (read: clothes tree) to swiftly and
deftly change not only his clothes but his character, circumstances, voice and
delivery for the next scene.
was a fabulous one-man show, using minimal props, no scenery and cleverly
chosen popular music to fill the interludes that carried us out of one scene
and delivered us to the next, all without curtains or most theatrical
Scene 1 "A Church in the Bronx"
speaking of scenes, the first, “A Church in the Bronx”,
was definitely the “love lost”
portion of the performance. Bertrand portrayed an inebriated, jilted ex-lover
who crashes his ex-gone-straight-boyfriend’s wedding ceremony. It was a
“shoulda been me instead of her” moment, filled with despair and disbelief.
Throughout this scene, as well as most of the rest of the play, Playwright
Pumo’s skillful writing provided Bertran’s lines to deliver as if there was
another actor present in conversation, but of course there wasn’t, as it was a
Scene 2 "A Locker Room in Midtown"
of Bertran’s best talents involves the delivery of these one-sided ‘dialogs’,
which continues (albeit between a new set of characters) as the performance
proceeds into Scene 2. It begins as Bertran’s character arrives in “A locker
room in Midtown”. Here he coolly confronts another man who has been attempting
to woo away his lover. We are presented
with Bertran’s forcefully superior and disdainful character and the scene is
gripping. All of the action in this
scene takes place while he changes into boxing attire, wrapping his hands,
slowly and methodically, before putting on his boxing gloves (for what we can
only imagine will be the pummeling he will give his opponent). His message is
clear assuming the guy hasn’t already taken the hint and headed for the
hills! Not only is he confident that he
could whip him in the ring, but he is also certain that he has already won the
contest for his lover’s affections, by default. His lover simply doesn’t love
his opponent. The outcome is clear for this scene, but love is not always that
(pardon me, please) straightforward.
Scene 3 "A Bench on the Hudson"
Scene 3, “A Bench on the Hudson”
introduces us to a male hustler who is hanging out,
listening to the French language tapes he received from ‘Sir” the suburban man
who would have turned him into a My Fair Lady.
Out classed, over his head in an alien lifestyle, and uncomfortable (and
possibly a little fearful) in his role as a S&M slave as well as with the
prospects of a permanent relationship, he has just run away and left Sir
behind, thinking to return to his old life, habits, friends, hangouts and
comforts. In the end we are left with
the feeling that backwards or forward, this is the “damned if you do/don’t”
part of humanness that confounds without regard to social or economic borders.
Scene 4 "A P-FLAG Meeting on Long Island", a guy who was engaged in his own
heart, soul and sexual coming out story
of borders, and I know we were, Scene 4 left me wondering. Did it take us over the border and OOTC (out of the
City)? It’s a “P-FLAG Meeting on Long Island”!
Hence, I will raise the age-old question:
do Kings and Queens want to claim they
are Long Islanders? Conversely, do Long
Islanders think the Island ends in far western Nassau,
purposefully excluding Brooklyn and Queens
from its realm?
and pondering aside, back to Scene 4 where we meet Michael at the Coming OUT
Workshop. Fresh faced and full of enthusiasm and exuberance, he proudly tells
his coming OUT story, which includes a Barbara Streisand concert (he shows us a
precious keepsake, his framed concert ticket stubs)! Streisand concert,
unforgettable, right? How about
holding hands and kissing another guy for the first time in (gasp!) public. The
instant appeal of this event, whether you are in or out of the closet, is that
just about any GLBTQ person I know has been through the fear and panic of
coming out/or not coming out: some
busted down the door, some crept out, some are still in there (yoohoo! are you still in there?). Which is why we love the Grove, because if
not here, then where?
Scene 5 "A Dining Room in Park
Fifth was the controlled-yielding to
explosive- reaction to long term partner's betrayal.
Back to the show.
So, where does Bertran take us next? Well, back into the City, in Scene
5, to “A Dining Room in Park Slope”, Brooklyn. In this dramatic scene, between upper middle
class partners of 35 years, we look straight down the barrel at the explosive
question of whether a carefully preserved long term monogamous relationship can
be transformed into “monogamy plus” (extra relationship affairs). As the scene opens, it is clear that the
unseen partner has just announced his intention to have sex outside of their
marriage. Quite calmly, Bertran, the unsuspecting partner, methodically fills
his martini glass, downs the bracingly strong drink he has just carefully made,
and begins to delineate much of what has just been proposed and the losses that
will be wreaked on their relationship:
the dogs, the mortgages, the cars, the credit cards, the years of
comfort and companionship, etc. Just when we think he is being entirely too
composed, he explodes and furiously confronts the partner’s betrayal by thought
and word, if not yet by deed. Bertran’s
character ruthlessly puts it all on the table, all the certain advantages of a
long term relationship in exchange for adventure and expense (in terms of
dollars and relationship ruin). He prophesizes a bleak
outcome, foreseeing no splendor in the grass for strays. Of course, we never hear the other side,
except through Bertran’s one-sided discourse, so, we will never really know
what happened after that, and that my friends is left up to each of us to
Scene 6 "A Bedroom on the Lower East Side"
what can pick us up and give us hope
after all that tumult and uncertainty? Well, how about a wedding?? Scene 6 “A
Bedroom on the Lower East Side” smoothes out
the wrinkles and scars of love and is the “love
found” scene that is warm, fuzzy and hopeful. Bertran, appears as
a bride, getting dressed for the wedding and transforms before our very eyes
from bio-man to tran-woman, complete with silver gown and tiara, fabulous!
love springs eternal is the hope of us all and it is to Pumo and Bertran’s
credit that the whirlwind that is “Love Scenes” is outstanding in its portrayal
of love, at its best and hardest. This show was extraordinary entertainment and
worth seeing. Here’s my advice: go see it, first or second time, doesn’t
matter. Just as you’ll always remember your first love and you’ll likely never
forget this production for its touching humanity, no matter what color crayon
you choose for love.
Before coming to Cherry Grove, award winning “Love Scenes”,
produced by Gato Flaco Productions, has been on stages coast to coast and
abroad. More information on the producers, Playwright
David Pumo, Director Donna Jean Fogel, and Actor Moe Bertran can be found at