“C***” – Nearly Naked Theatre


Nearly Naked Theatre, Hardes Theatre at Phoenix Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

Although its amazingly graphic title makes it impossible to say it on air, the current Nearly Naked Theatre production is a slangy euphemism for a male body part, but the local premiere is a very conventional story about a confused man trying to figure out his sexual identity.  It’s a common issue many people face.

The answer for the central character, John, is initially elusive but by the play’s conclusion he  likely resolves his confusion although the man’s conclusion is apt to plague him on and off throughout his life.  The new Mike Barlett script is interesting but the dialogue lacks a taunt and tight construction as it takes forever to reveal the rather obvious issues that the characters must confront.  There is nothing out of the ordinary here.

The production isn’t perfect especially Damon Dering’s laggardly staging that allows the piece to meander on for far too long.  The play is set in London, but other than awful British accents, there’s nothing that suggests the English capital.  John seems to have allowed his life to have too many errant characters in it whom create a myriad of situations that seem unsolvable.  Economy in John’s life would solve many issues with the characters known only by letters in his life.  “M,” John’s lover, is an insecure fruitcake.  “M’s” Dad, “F,” is an interferer who should go off to a corner and be quiet.  “W,” the woman who enters John’s life and causes problems, isn’t very complex.

The acting is more believable than these superficial characters deserve.  Jericho Thomas as John lets audiences see the central character’s sexual struggle.  It may seem obvious to audiences whom John needs, but he really battles his physical desires.  Ryan L. Jenkins, as the woman known as “W,” presents a down-to-earth gal who finds who she thinks is the right guy only to discover his sexual issues as she begins to deal with his doubts.  Dylan Kim as “M,” John’s partner, presents an often caricaturish look at the swishy lover while blustery Douglas Loynd as “M’s” overly supportive father, just wants everything straightened out quickly.

Bartlett’s play is a thoughtful and definitively acted portrait of characters performing a realistic battle that many confront.  It continues through January 30.  For tickets, call the Phoenix Theatre box office at 602-254-2151.

Grade: C