By: Patrick Christiano
Michael Urie presents Drew Droege’s hysterical solo show, Happy Birthday Doug, at the SoHo Playhouse.
February 16, 2020: Happy Birthday Doug, a very funny and frequently insightful new one man-show by Drew Droege, RuPaul’s “AJ and the Queen” on Nexflix, opened at the SoHo Playhouse on Sunday. Happy Birthday Doug is a follow up to Droege’s 2018 hit, Bright Colors and Bold Patterns directed by Michael Urie, which The New York Times hailed as “hilarious” during its five-month run at the SoHo Playhouse in 2018. The show was captured by BroadwayHD for its streaming platform. That time the setting was a gay wedding in Palm Springs, this time it’s a gay birthday celebration in the back room of a wine bar in the Silverlake section of Los Angeles.
Doug, the guest of honor, who is turning 41, has recently published a novel and is throwing himself a birthday party/celebration. His guests, who for the most part have come to party hardy, feature an array of gay men, friends, former lovers, ticks, a wanabe friend, a bartender and even a ghost, Oscar Wilde, who materializes at the end of the evening when Doug is sufficiently inebriated to let his imagination take full flight.
The play, a scathing commentary on gay culture, is little more than a series of hysterical monologues, which are not really monologues because the characters are usually speaking to Doug or the assembled guests, which makes them actually dialogues. Any of these one person dialogues could easily stand alone, but they all share a commonality, in that, the characters are present at Doug’s birthday party and they are, all, astute observers with wickedly funny comments on their feelings and observations, all, delivered with an unbridled flare that is mind-bogglingly funny.
Droege has an encyclopedia-like knowledge of gay culture and current social mores. He is also immensely clever. He allows his characters, when speaking to Doug, to hear him, when we, the audience, do not. This is especially affective with Jason, the crasher, who is the first to arrive. His responses crescendo at furiously funny pace, which serves the material beautifully by keeping the action vitally alive from moment to moment.
Droege and director, Tom DeTrinis keep the evening moving at a rapid-fire pace, which adds enormously to the evening’s zaniness. All the characters, of course, are played by the immensely talented Drew Droege with a shatteringly witty flair that embodies each of his riotous creations. They are here to celebrate modern gay culture in a wickedly crazy hour-long ride called Happy Birthday Doug.
Happy Birthday Doug is now playing at the SoHo Playhouse, 15 Vandam Street, through March 29, 2020.For tickets call 212-691-1555.
Production Photos: Russ Rowland