Archive for July, 2017

Afterglow: A Critically Acclaimed New Play

It’s been quite some time since I’ve written, but I felt the need to share a recent, enlightening experience with you, my dedicated readers. Please excuse me while I shake off the rust, as I do my best to share enough details without giving too much away because I highly recommend you experience the following for yourself…

Patrick Reilly, Brandon Haagenson and Robbie Simpson. Photo by Mati Gelman

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending the opening night of Afterglow, a raw, two-act, off-Broadway play exploring the emotional, intellectual, and physical connections between three men and the broader implications within their relationships.

The play opens with a hot, steamy bedroom romp of silhouettes writhing in the sheets in carnal pleasure. Soon, these silhouettes reveal themselves to be two married, naked men in an open relationship, Josh and Alex, engaged in a triad of passion with their new friend Darius. As is always the case, the sex is complicated, messy and cannot be devoid of emotions and feelings. Connections between the three characters begin to form and morph throughout the rest of the play, and all three men must come to terms with their individual definitions of love, loyalty, and trust as futures are questioned, relationships are shaken and commitments are challenged.

Brandon Haagenson and Patrick Reilly _04. Photo by Mati GelmanThe play’s logistics are unique and enchanting. The stage is small and seating is intimately set on both sides. We are in Darius’ studio/massage parlor. We are on his roof. We are in Alex and Josh’s bed. And, we are in their shower. Yes, I said in the shower. The play involves a simple, morphing set design, transformed in a delicate ballet between the three characters, that keeps your focus on the emotions and interactions of the players. We are simply the fly on the wall witnessing every giddy moment, every dirty little secret and every heart-wrenching emotion.

Personally, I gravitated to one scene between Josh and Darius in which they discuss New York City dating in the era of apps. Darius, with acute accuracy, describes what it is like to be on a first date in this superficial and shallow pond so on point, I felt I’d been recorded on one of my rants to friends over a cocktail. Another moment that profoundly struck a chord was a simple line delivered by Alex: “Love is easy. Relationships are hard.” No words uttered on the stage have rung truer in my ears. In fact, there was rarely a moment I did not empathize with each character and the emotional burdens they bore.

Following opening night, I had the opportunity to discuss with the playwright, Asher Gelman, his play loosely based on his own experiences. He informed me, “Afterglow refers to that euphoric feeling we get immediately after a great experience; in this case, great sex that serves as the inciting incident for the rest of the play.”

Robbie Simpson and Brandon Haagenson. Photo by Mati GelmanThe play explores polyamorous relationships, a highly-debated topic in the gay world. While some may view this play as a cautionary tale against open relationships, the cautionary tale here, at least, the one the Asher intended, is about “communication and what happens when it breaks down; what happens when people stop being honest with each other, especially those they are closest to.”

I won’t ruin the experience for you, but I can tell you the play allows the audience the freedom to decide what happens next. Happy endings don’t make us think; they don’t challenge us,” added Gelman. “Happy endings relax us; tell us that everything is going to be fine and that we don’t really need to worry, because, no matter how bad things get, everything will work itself out. Life is not so simple, and there is no magic to save us from ourselves. So, you get to complete the story, based on what you want to see. But that’s up to you; my job is finished when the lights go out.”

Afterglow is showing at The LOFT at the Davenport Theatre — 354 West 45 Street and runs about 90 minutes. Tickets are very reasonable and can be purchased by visiting through September 16th. I HIGHLY recommend slating an evening with your lover, your best friend, multiple lovers or even by yourself to take in this experience and feel the emotional chords it strikes within you.