In "Fallen From Proust," Signature Theater resident playwright Norman Allen has written an urbane and satisfying comedy about sexual identities and relationships. The setting is a trendy San Francisco Bay apartment where new roommate Roger (Michael Glenn) is moving in with macho book editor Gary (Damon Boggess).

In “Fallen From Proust,” Signature Theater resident playwright Norman Allen has written an urbane and satisfying comedy about sexual identities and relationships.

The setting is a trendy San Francisco Bay apartment where new roommate Roger (Michael Glenn) is moving in with macho book editor Gary (Damon Boggess). He’s assisted by the editor’s chatty, self-absorbed girlfriend, Michelle (Hope Lambert), a frequent visitor to the flat.

She immediately hits it off with the compassionate listener who offers sympathy as she obsesses about her boyfriend’s unwillingness to commit to their relationship. When Roger announces he’s gay, the friendship blossoms further, as gay men-straight women relationships often do.

Ah, but there’s a twist. It turns out that Roger is only pretending to be gay so he can more casually pursue the sexy Michelle. What’s more, he-man Gary is revealed to be bisexual — all to the dismay of the woman who figures she has lost her beau and her new pal.

Playwright Allen deftly mines the quirky scenario for its comedic potential, especially with topical humor (such as Roger’s identity as a gay Republican living in a “blue” state). Michelle’s frankness about homosexuality and relationships also gets plenty of laughs. “Men are the most screwed-up people on earth, and with a gay couple there are two of them,” she exclaims.

Other unexpected turns are made as a brief second act wraps it all up.

The whole thing is paced at breakneck speed, sometimes annoyingly so, by director Will Pomerantz, who stresses the rapid fire of witty ripostes. Even the stagehands get in on the fun, regularly exchanging meaningful glances with performers as they breeze in and out between scenes.

Signature’s cast plays the material for all it’s worth. Boggess is appropriately clueless as the switch-hitting boyfriend and Glenn is enjoyable as the intellectual newcomer. Lambert’s hyperactive female obliges with most of the comic load, while Daniel Frith is a hoot as a lackadaisical male prostitute who gets the pot stirring.

Fallen from Proust

Signature Theater; 120 Seats; $39 Top

Production

ARLINGTON, Va. -- A Signature Theater presentation of a play in two acts by Norman Allen. Directed by Will Pomerantz.

Creative

Set, James Kronzer; lighting, Jason H. Thompson; costumes, Jenn Miller. Opened, reviewed Jan. 16, 2005. Running time: 1 HOUR, 30 MIN.

Cast

Michelle - Hope Lambert Roger - Michael Glenn Gary - Damon Boggess Alan - Daniel Frith
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