Review: 'Briefs' Showcases Short LGBT Plays in Its Third Successful Season
Now in its third year, “Briefs,” the festival of short LGBT plays produced by That Uppity Theatre Company and Vital Voice, opened last weekend to packed houses as they presented eight 10-minute plays exploring a rich variety of human relationship issues. True, the stories are told in an LGBT context, but the themes those plays explore apply to all of us—an abusive lover, parents finding out their child is gay, or discovering your new partner is a Republican are things that any of us might experience.
There was much to commend the festival on both the play writing and performance fronts. Opening the show, “Buggary,” by Brigham Mosley and directed by Ryan Foizey, featured Pete Winfrey and Ben Watts in spot-on performances as two British gents, outfitted in top hats and tails with mustaches like whisk brooms, but trouserless. The absurdest piece makes an hysterical comment on modern internet sex, but instead of computers, the messages are sent by each Lothario to the other as handwritten letters via a Rube Goldberg contraption. It was thoroughly amusing and elicited big laughs from the audience.
Certainly a standout was “Not My Father’s Son,” an acted musical number conceived and performed by Zachary Alan Lee (aka Desire’ Declyne), who gets into her drag clothes during the poignant, lushly performed song of the same title. The emotional and tender piece was clearly an audience favorite.
There were several scripts offering surprises too. Theresa Masters’ “Lucky,” which turned the abusive lover trope on its head by putting it into a lesbian relationship (featuring a splendidly dark, brooding performance by Rachel Hanks), while “Messages Deleted” by Rich Espey slyly reveals half-way through the scene that “we see dead people.” One dead person anyway, played by Jeffrey M. Wright, who along with John Wolbers and Chuck Brinkley, made the strongest ensemble in the festival.
Not all the scenes relied on some sort of trickery. There were lots of straight (so to speak) theater pieces as well. Joan Lipkin’s “Ready,” focused on the difficulty of lesbian dating in St. Louis. Lipkin tackles the theme by writing a bunch of great lines, giving them to Meghan Maguire and letting her riff at Sara Hamilton, who holds up her end of the scene as well. At first Maguire blames her dating troubles on the small pool of locally available lesbians, but we soon see other issues might be working against her ability to find a significant other.
The great diversity of material and important themes makes “Briefs” one of the most culturally significant festivals in the city, and with the success of this, its third season, it seems sure to continue next year. In contrast to the heavy (at times) subject matter, the experience is not a somber one, but one of celebration. Next year, do yourself a favor and go see it.
For more information on “Briefs” and other Uppity Theatre activities, visit the That Uppity Theatre website.