Decades Apart: Reflections of Three Gay Men ****
By: Paulanne Simmons
In Decades Apart: Reflections of Three Gay Men, the talented wr
iter/performer Rick Pulos portrays three very different men: Bob, a carefree soul living it up in 1970s San Francisco; Patrick, a Republican retreating from the gay scene in 1980s New York City; and Danny, a club kid dancing his life away in 1990s Los Angeles.
The play, directed by Barbara Parisi, opened the first ever Long Island Fringe Festival in fall 2009. Since then it has been performed at Nuyorican Poets Cafe and San Francisco’s Exit Theater. This November, Pulos and Parisi are bringing it to Ryan Repertory Company’s Harry Warren Theatre in Brooklyn for a two-week run.
Against a multi-media backdrop including projection screens with historic images, headlines, news clips and original animation, Pulos moves easily between the three characters. Each scene pulses with carefully chosen music from the decade.
Bob is optimistic and full of life, enjoying himself in the San Francisco bath houses. Patrick, a decade later, lives in a totally different world, one in which AIDS is taking its terrible toll. By the 1990s, Danny inhabits a post-epidemic world made both both safer and more dangerous by antiretroviral drugs and the Internet.
All three men are well-rounded characters, and Pulos has made no attempt to portray them as any better or worse than other men, gay or straight. There are times they say things that make us wince, most specifically, Larry Kramer’s famous line about gay men "fucking each other to death." But other lines, especially Patrick’s explanation of how he has fallen in love, are deeply moving.
With all this strength, the show has one weakness. At the end it turns from moving solo show to activist documentary. Many of the film clips, including a speech on gay rights by President Obama and episodes in the life of the famous lesbian couple Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer (Windsor sued the federal government over an estate tax after Spyer died), are very interesting, and they are a strong call-to-action. But this ending does not seem appropriate to a mostly fictional account.
Nevertheless, Decades Apart: Reflections of Three Gay Men tells three stories that are disturbing, inspiring and still relevant.
Decades Apart: Reflections of Three Gay Men runs through Nov. 16 at the Harry Warren Theatre, 2445 Bath Avenue, Brooklyn For more information call (718) 996-4800 or visit www.decadesapart.org.