Primary Stages’ Production of “Harbor” by Chad Beguelin

Warning: Plot Spoilers!

Primary Stages, an innovative off-Broadway Theater Company, is presenting “Harbor,” a two-act play by Chad Beguelin, directed by Mark Lamos, at 59E59 Theaters in Manhattan.  I saw last night’s performance.  A main draw to see this is the casting of Randy Harrison, a favorite from the “Queer As Folk” TV series, in the role of Kevin Adams-Weller, an aspiring writer recently married to his long-time boyfriend, architect Ted Adams-Weller, played by Paul Anthony Stewart.  Erin Cummings, as Kevin’s sister Donna, and Alexis Molnar, as Donna’s teenage daughter, Lottie, make up the rest of the cast.

The action is mainly set in the living room of the Adams-Weller house in Sag Harbor, New York.  The plotting and structure are pretty much classic – there are two couples here, each a mis-match, and they get sorted out in the second act and redistributed to their “better” partner. The twists and turns to getting there also proceed according to well-worn formulas.  What makes this different, and intriguing, are that the two mismatches are a same-sex married couple and a single mother with her daughter.  The mother is childish and, it is soon revealed, pregnant again, and the daughter of overly mature and sophisticated for her age.  The two men are hardly equals – one a highly trained professional, underemployed due to the recession, the other a childish dreamer.  Is the best re-shuffling to match the childish ones and send them off on their way, and leave the sophisticated child with her uncle’s husband?  Stranger things have happened, of course.  But I never really believed the two men as a stable couple from the introductory scene, and so did not exactly find myself rooting for them to stay together.

The acting is fine, if a bit overwrought at times (and the actors are still settling into their roles, to judge by a few verbal miscues).  Young Alexis Molnar steals the show, being the most interesting character played by the most interesting actor.  Randy Harrison is growing up nicely (!!).  Paul Anthony Stewart takes some time to bring his character into focus, descending a bit into stereotype in the first act, but has a terrific second act.  Erin Cummings is very watchable in the diva role of the “crazy sister” who keeps getting knocked up.   Mr. Beguelin has devised a diverting show that does prompt some thought about the nature of relationships, and the direction doesn’t let him down.  Neither does the technical end – modern dress, of course, with a nicely-designed stage lay-out that proves flexible enough to support a few scenes outside the living room, with effective lighting (Japhy Weiderman) and mood-enhancing incidental music for act-starters and scene-changers (John Gromada). 

I would certainly recommend it for those seeking some summer theater entertainment with a little punch.

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