Review: The Boys in the Band
Zachary Quinto, Jim Parsons, Matt Bomer, and Andrew Rannells lead the brilliant ensemble of the 50th anniversary revival of The Boys in the Band, the first revival of the play. Director Joe Mantello has brought this play back to life with his skillful direction of what is arguably the best ensemble on Broadway.
Filled with brilliant one liners and antagonistic behavior fueled by liquor that seems to always be flowing, along with a party game designed to make the guests uncomfortable, this play is absolutely incredible.
The story centers around Michael (Parsons), a recovering alcoholic who is drinking club soda in order to stay away from gin. He is obsessed with his lifestyle, one that he cannot afford, which is brilliantly shown in the set design. He is throwing a party for his friend Harold (Quinto) who in chronically late, and arrives stoned. The invited guests include Donald (Bomer), a former lover of Michael's who tends to watch from the sidelines, Larry (Rannells) and Hank (Tuc Watkins), a couple that spends a great deal of the night arguing, Bernard (Michael Benjamin Washington), who allows himself to be the butt of many jokes, and Emory (Robin de Jesus) who brings with him Cowboy (Charlie Carver) as a gift for Harold.
The happiness that the play begins with is interrupted by Alan (Brian Hutchinson), Michael's college roommate who is believed to be straight and arrives in distress, which Michael assumes to be marriage issues. His arrival sets of the time bomb that had been slowly ticking, and triggers the issues among friends.
The performances given by each actor on stage are awe inspiring and you can't tear your eyes away. Robin de Jesus's performance provides the show with some of it's best moments, while Matt Bomer and Andrew Rannells both give intelligent, charming, and committed performances that were hard to look away from.
With it's stunningly accurate but not overdone period costumes, beautifully executed set, and wonderful ensemble who perfectly embody their characters, The Boys in the Band could seem dated, and it does in some senses. But at the same time it is a reminder of where society has been, one that is difficult to look upon at this time. But it also reminds us of what social oppression still sadly exists in our society today, telling us that there will be more in the future.