Falling Man tells tales of love and identity
By Myrna Petlicki May 8, 2013 6:06PM
Glenn Abel stars as a 13-year-old Jewish boy coming to terms with his homosexuality in “Alien Boy.”
5/10-5/31: Fri 9 PM, Gorilla Tango Theatre, 7924 Lincoln, Skokie, 847-677-7761, gorillatango.com, $20.
Updated: May 8, 2013 6:14PM
Four men and a teenager deal with their sexuality in “Falling Man,” five monologues by Will Scheffer.
Shane Abbott, who runs Gorilla Tango’s Skokie Theatre, directs the show Friday nights through May at the theater. He also performs the title monologue.
Abbott decided to produce and direct this show because, “The writing is really strong,” he said. “It’s about sexual identity. In this day and age with all of the talk about gay marriage, I thought it was pretty current. It’s a dichotomy. You could take these stories and put females in all the roles, or teenagers or old people.”
Abbott stressed that although the monologues were written “from the mid-’80s point of view,” they’re not dated. He noted that a theme throughout the pieces is “how hard it is for people to be themselves.”
“Falling Man” is told by a man nearing death. “He’s talking about how he fell in love for the first time,” Abbott said. “And how he wants people to remember him. He was a champion cha-cha dancer. He’s dying of HIV. He really wants people to know that he loved and he lived. It’s a pretty deep piece.”
Florida native Glenn Abel, who moved to Chicago to pursue an acting career, plays a 13-year-old in “Alien Boy.” “He’s Jewish. He’s really smart,” Abel said. “They describe him in the show as a precocious child. A lot of it is about him struggling to understand and to get a grip on his identity as a homosexual.”
That reality is particularly difficult for the boy because the piece is set in the 1970s. The monologue deals with “his Jewish lineage and his relationship with his mother and the adults in his life,” Abel reported.
The sheer length of the piece is presenting a bit of a challenge for Abel. “It’s an eight-page monologue,” he said. “I’ve never had that much time to myself onstage before. It’s a little bit nerve-racking but I’m really excited about it.”
“One Man’s Meat” stars Andrew Hodson as mass murderer Jeffrey Dahmer. “This monologue is so different than anything he ever was because it takes place after his passing,” Hodson said. “It’s him in heaven hosting a cooking show. He’s got kind of a vibe a little bit like Rachel Ray in the beginning.”
“It’s surprisingly light,” Hodson insisted. “He’s kind of talking through things but then you realize the subtext of what he’s saying. He’s talking about eating people.”
The actor noted that what Dahmer is seeking to achieve in this piece is “the recipe for perfect love. That’s commonplace for everyone. That’s kind of one of the goals of life but he had taken it to such an extreme that it involved mass murder and cannibalism.”
Hodson, who is from Michigan, first appeared onstage at the age of 8 months. “I played a baby,” he joked. (His mother was in the show.) A professional dancer and singer, Hodson has performed at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, the Lyric Opera and many other venues.
The best thing about playing Jeffrey Dahmer for Hodson is that, “It’s such a departure from who I am. If I do it well, and I hope I do, there will be minutes where you forget who this is.”
A fourth monologue, “Tennessee and Me,” is about a male hustler who becomes inhabited by the spirit of Tennessee Williams.
“Fire Dance” focuses on a drag queen who performs as a fire dancer and her memories of her idol.
Abbott concluded that what these plays have in common is that, “They are talking about how they came into contact with love and what it did to them — and how they found themselves.”
Myrna Petlicki is a local free-lance writer.