Like “Titus Andronicus,” “Sextet” demonstrates, however inadvertently, the fledgling playwright’s favorite maxim: even mighty oaks can start their careers with some pretty paltry acorns. With grimly heroic endurance, Eclipse Theatre Company continues their season devoted to Lanford Wilson by collecting six of his one-acts, five of which date from his first efforts as part of the fringe theatre scene around New York’s La Mama. Eclipse has assembled a generally strong cast and stages the plays imaginatively, but can’t surmount the sketchiness of much of this material. “Sextet” opens with the contrived premises of “Ikke, Ikke, Nye, Nye, Nye” (first date of an obscene phone caller) and “Days Ahead” (man lectures his lost love in the form of a wall); the latter features a creepily effective performance by Gregory Hardigan. The first act concludes with the seemingly interminable “The Madness of Lady Bright.” While this maudlin portrait of an aging drag queen (ferociously overplayed by Steven Fedoruk) may have represented a genuine breakthrough in 1963, today Leslie Bright’s descent into madness comes off as cliched and condescending. Eclipse has, perhaps unwisely, saved the stronger works for the second act. “Sextet (YES)” and “This Is the Rill Speaking” feature nimble ensemble work, while CeCe Klinger brings passionate intelligence to the monologue “The Moonshot Tape.” Even in these pieces, though, Wilson mines well-worked territory—infidelity, young love, the abusive stepfather—without adding much in the way of insight. (John Beer)
This production is now closed.