After "Straight-Jacket" and now "The Crumple Zone," New York City's Gay Pride Day has a lot to answer for. Producers have overloaded the weeks surrounding the holiday with homosexual-themed plays, sorely testing the legit truism that if it's gay, they will come. Richard Day's "Straight-Jacket" overreached by equating homophobia with the political witch hunt of the 1950s, while Buddy Thomas' "The Crumple Zone" appears to have no ambitions except as an audition for the kind of banal, dippily sentimental TV sitcoms that "Seinfeld" retired a decade ago.

After “Straight-Jacket” and now “The Crumple Zone,” New York City’s Gay Pride Day has a lot to answer for. Producers have overloaded the weeks surrounding the holiday with homosexual-themed plays, sorely testing the legit truism that if it’s gay, they will come. Richard Day’s “Straight-Jacket” overreached by equating homophobia with the political witch hunt of the 1950s, while Buddy Thomas’ “The Crumple Zone” appears to have no ambitions except as an audition for the kind of banal, dippily sentimental TV sitcoms that “Seinfeld” retired a decade ago.

Terry (Mario Cantone) is the wise-cracking but lonely guy who pines for the beautiful and perfectly boring Buck (Gerald Downey), who is in love with the maniacally unemployed actor Alex (Josh Biton), who is carrying on a long-distance relationship with a traveling chorus boy named Matt (Paul Pecorino). Matt doesn’t show up until the beginning of act two, by which time Alex and Buck are lovers. They pretend for the sake of Matt’s Christmas holiday to be merely good buddies, with Buck posing as Terry’s boyfriend.

A real stud named Roger (Steve Mateo) shows up twice during the course of the action, his major function being to take off his clothes. (The Roger character should be named Buck and vice versa, but never mind.)

Connoisseurs of the genre will note that Mateo and Ron Mathews — from the aforementioned “Straight-Jacket” — appear to have nearly identical gym regimens. For those wanting their money’s worth, Mathews spends much more stage time unencumbered by shirt and trousers.

Dawn Robyn Petrlik’s set design of Terry’s Staten Island apartment could use a gay interior decorator under the age of 50. There are posters on the walls of Barbra Streisand, “The Wizard of Oz” and “Sunset Boulevard.” Yes, and Terry’s bedroom door bears a shiny blue star.

The gay-icon humor is a tad more obscure: “You appeared out of nowhere like Elizabeth Montgomery!” cries Terry. Otherwise, he’s into paraphrasing jokes that were much funnier on their original tour of the gay grapevine 30 years ago, such as, “I like my alcohol the way I like my men: strong and cheap.”

The Crumple Zone

(RATTLESTICK THEATER; 92 SEATS; $ 35)

Production

NEW YORK A Marcus Kettles presentation of a play in two acts by Buddy Thomas. Directed by Jason Moore.

Crew

Set, Dawn Robyn Petrlik; costumes, David Mills; lighting, Ed McCarthy; sound, Laura Grace Brown; choreography, Peter Kapetan; fight consultant, B.H. Barry; production stage manager, Gail Eve Malatesta. Opened June 28, 2000. Reviewed June 27. Running time: 1 HOUR, 50 MIN.

With

Terry ..... Mario Cantone Alex ..... Josh Biton Buck ..... Gerald Downey Roger ..... Steve Mateo Matt ..... Paul Pecorino
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