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Breakfast With Scot 

This play about a queer 11-year-old raised by two gay men feels strained

Wednesday, Sep 1 2004
Is the world ready for a play about a flamingly queer 11-year-old raised by two gay men? It should be, since Breakfast With Scot was a novel by Michael Downing before he turned it into a play, and the novel was well reviewed in 1999. (Publishers Weekly called Downing's fictional family "a potent, realistic new configuration of contemporary American values.") But the play is a disaster. Ed and Sam, a well-groomed professional couple in Cambridge, Mass., start looking after a boy named Scot after Scot's mother dies. The kid is more than a sissy: He wears blouses and kitsch jewelry, eyeliner and perfumed skin moisturizer, and affects the dandyism of an old queen yet talks in a piping, innocent voice. His habits amuse and embarrass Ed and Sam. They try to be good liberal parents, but Scot is precocious. He also makes secret cell-phone calls to commune with his dead mother. Not a minute of the play feels untendentious or graceful; even Scott Cox and Javier Galito-Cava, the adult actors playing Sam and Ed (respectively), have to force their gay mannerisms. Watching the young Sam Garber force his, as Scot, is painful. The show has an air of presenting an odd situation as though it's perfectly normal -- as if to say, "Look, we can be a healthy nuclear family, too" -- but the strain is obvious in every scene. If director Ed Decker wants to illustrate a "realistic new configuration" of modern American values with a play like this, I'm afraid he (and his actors) will have to work about nine times harder.


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