'Go Back to Where You Are'

A romantic antidote to cynical gay comedies, this slight but engaging piece bravely affirms that you're never too old or too soiled to win the love of a nice young man.

Aw, how sweet. In David Greenspan’s latest gay fantasy, “Go Back to Where You Are,” a demonic chorus boy from ancient Greece (played by the scribe) is liberated from Purgatory for an earthly mission that takes him to Long Island, where he attends a house party in Montauk, mingles with shallow theater types, and meets the love of his life. A romantic antidote to cynical gay comedies like “Love! Valour! Compassion!,” this slight but engaging piece bravely affirms that you’re never too old or too soiled to win the love of a nice young man.

As the people at this house party keep noting in asides to the audience: “There’s no chronology to this play.” True enough. There’s also no definitive sense of place, or even a clear delineation of character, as the individual players in this well-cast ensemble keep slipping out of their roles to emerge in other parts. In fact, as one character takes care to inform us, the play isn’t even written yet, because the playwright is “still looking for a form to tell this story.”

Helmer Leigh Silverman (“In the Wake”) observes the sense of mystery with a supple production that dances around the existential themes of rebirth and renewal, while leaving a lot to the imagination. Rachel Hauck’s sketch of a set (mismatched wooden deck chairs against a leaden sky) and Matt Frey’s airy lighting design keep the play open to interpretation. So does the acting style, which tends to be dreamy.

Passalus, the imp-like chorus boy played with great relish by the playwright, arrives on this scene with a clear mission — to encourage a young woman named Caroline (who never appears in the play) to stand up to her domineering mother, Charlotte, a narcissistic stage actress played with becoming elan by Lisa Banes. But there are major distractions.

Being able to read people’s minds, Passalus becomes so curious about these theater people — a Central Casting lineup of actresses, directors, playwrights, and their lovers — that he can’t focus. More unsettling, he acquires a human heart, and the first thing he does with that heart is to lose it to Claire’s brother, Bernard (a sensitive perf from Brian Hutchison), a moody playwright who is still brooding over the death of his lover.

The pity Passalus feels for these suffering mortals humanizes the little demon as much as his love for Bernard. But it’s the romance that will draw gay auds — two by two and holding hands — to this play.

Go Back to Where You Are

Playwrights Horizons; 128 seats; $55 top

Production

A Playwrights Horizons presentation of a play in one act by David Greenspan. Directed by Leigh Silverman.

Creative

Set, Rachel Hauck; costumes, Theresa Squire; lighting, Matt Frey; production stage manager, Kyle Gates. Reviewed April 10, 2011. Opened April 12. Running time: 1 HOUR, 10 MIN.

Cast

Bernard - Brian Hutchison
Passalus - David Greenspan
God, Malcolm - Tim Hopper
Claire - Lisa Banes
Charlotte - Mariann Mayberry
Tom - Stephen Bogardus
Wally - Michael Izquierdo
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