Life is a series of snapshots that string together in summation of an existence; oftentimes, things don’t seem to flow properly, and questions or uncertainties remain.
Keep this in mind when seeing “Homos, Or Everyone in America,” a poignant play by Jordan Seavey being staged now by Epic Theatre Company. At first blush, it’s an honest look at a romantic relationship’s genesis, climax and waning over the years.
The fact that it’s a homosexual relationship adds a layer of complexity as the partners jostle for a foothold in what remains a society that fears anything different — yet the story also underscores the sameness of all romantic interactions. There are power struggles, there is fear and vulnerability, there are screaming arguments that taint everyday life.
Seavey cleverly keeps things simple in “Homos.” The couple is known only by profession — The Academic and The Writer. Some productions have made it an interracial pairing, but neither the race nor gender makes much difference. It showcases love with all its frailties, playing out against the challenges of jealousy and the hatred of a narrow-minded society.
What isn’t simple is Seavey’s writing. He creates two outspoken and opinionated characters that dig into a relationship with a gusto that leads to intellectual and entertaining debates about objectification, the “hijacked generation” of the 1980s, xenophobia and marriage equality.
As the dialogue crisscrosses the years, in and out of the couple’s relationship, the two push each other’s buttons in arguments that are as entertaining as their friendlier banter.
Directed by David Ledoux, the Epic production is engaging and charming. The setting is cleverly carved from the intimate front room of the Artists’ Exchange, and Ledoux has created an all-encompassing 95 minutes (no intermission) that moves on every side of his audience. The space relies on sound effects and lighting to shift seamlessly from the couple’s Brooklyn apartment to a crowded wine bar to a beach to a subway station.
The latter is actually created immediately outside the theatre, through large windows as the actors — Alvaro Beltran as The Academic and Kevin Broccoli as The Writer — wage a spirited argument that remains audible and visible to the audience from the sidewalk.
“Homos” exposes fears intrinsic to the gay community, whether it’s concern about general acceptance (the Academic worries that something is stereotypical of a gay man) or violence against them. It also underscores the commonality between all relationships — and even pushes out a few anti-straight zingers like, “I’d be wary of the straight agenda. I wouldn’t let them watch my children.”
Ledoux couldn’t have tapped two better actors to bring forth this message than Beltran and Broccoli. Each draws from wells of tenderness and strength to present men who are inspirational, funny and endearing to watch. Their relationship is wonderfully imperfect, and their chemistry feeds the romance — and the fight scenes — beautifully.
After a charming love story in “Constellations” last month, Epic continues its summertime campaign of hope with this love story. “Homos” truly does represent everyone in America in all the right ways.
Epic Theatre Company is at 50 Rolfe Square in Cranston. For tickets, go to www.epictheatreri.org.