Writer and actor Dan Via raises new questions about age disparity in homosexual relationships in Daddy. The play is simple, yet leaves a lasting impact. The audience will be left questioning what they know and arguing about it for days after.
Reviewed by Nicole C. Lee
“[Greek] stories never end well,” says Stew (Dan Via). It’s true that the Greeks may have “been onto something” with their age-gapped relationships, but Stew worries that his best friend, Colin (Gerald McCullough), might be blurring the boyfriend and father-figured line by dating Tee (Bjorn DuPaty), a biracial 21-year-old. While a daddy is generally understood to be a term of endearment for one’s father, in homosexual relationships, a daddy is the much older man in the relationship. Using this setting, Dan Via challenges the audience to question our notions of fatherhood, love, age, friendship, sex, and identity.
What does it mean to be a ”daddy”? This is just one of the many questions asked by Dan Via’s Daddy. This new play, directed by David Hilder, centers on two gay men: Colin (Gerald McCullouch), a white man in his 40s who enjoys casual sexual exploits, and Colin’s best friend Stew (Via), a law professor with an acerbic wit. Though they are not officially a couple, Colin and Stew were at one point sexually intimate. And the two men live very much like an old married couple. Indeed, Via paints a picture of domesticity between the pair; Stew customarily makes Sunday breakfast for Colin, Stew relies on Colin’s career advice, and the two men order Chinese take-out and watch baseball games at Colin’s apartment.
When Tee (Bjorn DuPaty) enters their lives, the issue of age disparity in homosexual relationships comes to light. Colin is flattered by Tee’s fanaticism over his work as a columnist, eventually feeling a strong sexual attraction for him. When their relationship becomes sexual, Stew teases Colin for dating someone so young. Meanwhile, Tee is keeping a secret from Colin that, once revealed, leaves the audience contemplating the age dynamic in homosexual relationships between men of disparate ages. Again, what does it mean to be a daddy?
In another career, Dan Via would have made a good lawyer: his playwriting is careful to avoid taking a stance or delivering answers. Instead, he slyly presents us with balanced arguments—like that of the legalization of gay marriage—and allows the audience to judge. At the same time, by keeping the focus on human interests, he keeps the show emotional, approaching the “morality” of homosexuality in a new and provocative way. With solid performances and clever writing, Daddy inspires thought without overwhelming the audience and surprises us without a hint of banality.
Daddy (95 minutes without intermission)
TBG Arts Center Mainstage Theater (312 West 36th Street, 3rd fl.)
Tickets: $18 (http://www.smarttix.com or 212-868-4444)
Performances: Through February 13, 2010
According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.