"Green Light Trilogy" is a highly entertaining, lighthearted and apolitical exploration of some of the realities gays face in today's rapidly changing world.
The trio of short plays, written by former Ashlanders L.N. Saleh and Tom Lipski and directed by Lyda Woods, was performed Friday at Grizzly Peak Winery in Ashland and has its final showing at 8 p.m. Saturday at the winery, 1600 E. Nevada St. Cost is $15 at the door.
"Green Light" examines both real and hypothetical questions gays might ponder: What if a straight person hits on you? What if you want to have a child on your own? And do gays get a gay-friendly section of heaven after they die?
Topping the show is "Confessions of a Bridesmaid," a wild scenario of a married, straight woman named Missy (Anne Givans) hitting on a drunken lesbian named Allison (Mig Windows), so she can find out whether being gay is better than her seemingly boring straight life in the Midwest.
Allison's parting advice to Missy? "You've just got to get out of the Midwest!"
The two are a scream, alternately diving and darting in and out of erotic clinches, getting on and off cell phones (who isn't these days?) and trying to order chocolate ice cream from room service on the evening before a wedding.
Givans, Windows and the other actors are from the Southern Oregon University Theatre Arts Department and know how to handle themselves on stage, racking up laugh after laugh while still addressing the more serious issues of stereotypes to which gays are subjected. Are they interested in recruiting people to their sexual orientation by giving a "litmus test?" No. Do gays all know each other? No.
In "Gay Heaven," actors in tie-dye boas try to set up a non-homophobic section of the afterlife. It's fraught with gay in-jokes but the slapstick will keep you howling most of the time.
In "Womb Service," the longest and slowest of the trio, Amy (Olivia Harrison), a lesbian fan of the Green Bay Packers, announces her decision to have a baby, on her own, in the house she shares with her brother, who feels it will chip away at their bond.
It's a game-changer for the family, but instead of love and support, all her brother (Levi Anderson) has to say is, "Where ya gonna get the sperm, fer the love of Pete?"
A radiant standout is Robert Hastings as the friend Ted, who wanders in and out of the Packers party, always with a joke seemingly going on inside him.
But Harrison and Anderson lack commitment to their characters, and much of their dialogue seems to wander. Such a big life change should bring out more tension and deeper emotions, but it's handled like a light TV sitcom, with the ending happily tied in a bow.
Most humor is born of life's painful incongruities — and this situation, being gay and birthing a child, has plenty. But along with the humor, one wishes for an authentic peek into the new mom's heart and an evolutionary arc and deepening of the brother's feelings for his sister.
Director Woods should be encouraged to keep this trio of plays in production, especially through the long summer, where good, affordable, off-Bardway productions would be nice to have. Staging it at an intimate winery is also a great getaway and promotes local vintages.
"Green Light Triology" is a boost to the quality and accessibility of alternative theater in Ashland.
John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.