Actor-comedian Drew Droege turned New York’s Barrow Street Theatre into a booze-fueled bacchanal this weekend, exploring the challenges many gay men face in the marriage equality era with a new, side-splitting solo show.
In “Bright Colors and Bold Patterns,” Droege stars as Gerry, a single, smart-mouthed 30-something who’s been dating and discarding his way through New York and Los Angeles for years. Burned by his latest boyfriend, Gerry turns up at a Palm Springs pool party thrown the night before two gay pals, Josh and Brennan, tie the knot.
As it turns out, the party is a veritable mine field, partly because Gerry’s known a few of its attendees intimately. Hilarity ensues as Gerry attempts to ease the tension with margaritas and cocaine, but ends up confronting a few personal demons as his night descends into wooziness.
Droege, who has garnered a viral following thanks to his YouTube impersonations of actress Chloë Sevigny, is in brisk comedic form here, whether interacting with unseen, Speedo-clad revelers or offering zingers on gay cultural touchstones like “Murder, She Wrote” and “Designing Women.” He’s found a deft collaborator in director Michael Urie, who lent sass and sentiment to Jonathan Tolins’s one-man comedy, “Buyer & Cellar,” which played the Barrow Street Theatre in 2013.
To be fair, the show’s central question about the future of queer identity at a time when many same-sex couples are swaying toward heteronormativity has been posed before, notably in the Broadway-bound play, “Significant Other,” and on HBO’s “Looking.” Similarly, Droege offers no conclusive insight for how single gay men of a certain age can continue to be footloose and fancy-free when their friends are pairing off, settling down and buttoning up. (The play’s title refers to Josh and Brennan’s request that their guests wear only neutral wedding attire.)
Still, Droege’s biting, self-deprecating humor makes his observations about the gay generational divide feel fresh and compelling. By tackling themes of love, loss and what we wore through a “big, loud, gay drunk mess” of a character, “Bright Colors and Bold Patterns” may be a study in soul-searching, but it doesn’t skimp on the sugar, either.
Drew Droege stars in “Bright Colors and Bold Patterns,” which opens at the Celebration Theatre in Los Angeles on Sept. 26 following its New York run, which concludes Sept. 18. Head here for more information.