Seduction

"Seduction" is gay drama writ small, a 75-minute quickie as diverting yet forgettable as a sexual liaison with no names exchanged. Which is appropriate enough, since that's pretty much the nature of the 10 scenes daisy-chained here.

With:
With: Christopher Maikish, Bradford J. Shreve, Scott Smith, Matthew Socha, Jason Wong.

“Seduction” is gay drama writ small, a 75-minute quickie as diverting yet forgettable as a sexual liaison with no names exchanged. Which is appropriate enough, since that’s pretty much the nature of the 10 scenes daisy-chained here. Yet another spin on Schnitzler’s ever-adaptable “La Ronde” (without the syphilis), latest effort by vet playwright Jack Heifner provides a reasonably entertaining excuse to toss around a few quips and some well-toned male bodies. What it lacks is any special insight or pressing raison d’etre, a problem shared to a lesser degree by David Hare’s own recent “Ronde,” “The Blue Room.”

That minor work from a major dramatist at least preserved more of the prickly class and gender dynamics from Schnitzler’s century-old original. Of course, gender issues are out for Heifner, still best known for the long-running Off Broadway/regional hit “Vanities.” But he doesn’t mine a lot of conflict from those avenues relevant to gay male characters (well, some claim they’re straight or bi). The only significant news here is that men think with their genitals, especially when other men are the quarry. And that’s old, old news.

Indeed, a couple bursts of Britney Spears aside (“Oops! I Did It Again,” a choice no less grisly than the likewise recurrent “One” from “A Chorus Line”), there’s nothing here that would have looked out of place onstage in 1978.

The sequences are titillating and fast-moving enough in Christopher Jenkins’ premiere production. Set within orbiting range of NYC, the play’s first duet is between an insinuating young hustler (Christopher Maikish) and a sailor (Bradford J. Shreve); offered a freebie, the latter protests he’s not that way, but doesn’t put up much more resistance. In fact, he’s next seen having it off with a boyfriend-seeking Southerner (Matthew Socha) beneath a disco floor.

No less emotionally satisfying is the drawling handyman’s tumble with the bratty student (Jason Wong) whose parents’ penthouse he cleans. The rich bitch then pulls a similar number on his professor (Shreve), the latter guiltily succumbing to a planned hotel-room tryst. He stays mum about this interlude back home with hubby (Smith), but despite protestations of fidelity all around, the spouse soon is enjoying some afternoon delight on a business trip with his much younger park pickup (Maikish).

So it goes.

There are some kinda sexy wearing-down-resistance moments here (scenarios right out of Erotic Fantasias 101), and occasional witty exchanges. But the situations and dialogue offer few surprises, their major plus being that scenes roll over too fast for one to get bored. Plus, the able cast credibly stretches from late teens to late 40s, and all look very good (without being excessively pretty and/or pumped) out of their clothes. Which is fortunate, because Keri Kitch’s costumes here exist mostly to be taken off.

Seduction

New Conservatory Theater Center, San Francisco; 60 Seats; $28 Top

Production: A New Conservatory presentation of a play in one act by Jack Heifner, inspired by "La Ronde" by Arthur Schnitzler. Directed by Christopher Jenkins.

Creative: Set, Pedro Murteira; costumes, Keri Kitch; lighting, Jim Gross; sound, Jeremy Stone. Artistic director, Ed Decker. Opened Jan. 31, 2004. Reviewed Feb. 8. Running time: 1 HOUR, 15 MIN.

Cast: With: Christopher Maikish, Bradford J. Shreve, Scott Smith, Matthew Socha, Jason Wong.

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