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Theatre Out revives Lucas’s ‘Dying Gaul,’ ‘Lesson Before Love’ on DVD

Carver, Kelley, Fargo in Dying Gaul
Carver, Kelley, Fargo in Dying Gaul
Theatre Out

Hooray for Hollywood? Not the one that provides the backdrop of “The Dying Gaul,” the one that runs rampant with amoral and unethical people. One can almost hear the Craig Lucas play (in its OC premiere at Theatre Out through Apr. 6) being pitched in Hollywood terms: “Tartuffe” meets “Brokeback Mountain.” But where the Moliere classic is celebrating its 350th birthday this year, Lucas’s play is unlikely to last 50 years and already feels dated.

Jeffrey, an unscrupulous studio exec, wants to buy Robert’s screenplay about a gay man and his dying lover; he’s going to make it one way or the other, but he wants major changes Robert can’t abide. He also wants to get into Robert’s pants. Jeffrey’s wife Elaine, meanwhile, has her own ideas. The play gets off to a promising start but snags on muddled and clichéd twists and turns of the plot, and some surrealistic tangents that don’t work.

Chris Carver injects some life into the proceedings as Jeffrey, the sleazy exec, but doesn’t pass muster as bisexual. Jeffrey Fargo (Robert) lacks credibility as a writer or a gay man, but his disillusion and disgust with Hollyweird is believable. Lori Kelley (Elaine) and Michael Treat Latsch (Robert’s shrink) fare somewhat better but are constrained by the script. Director David C. Carnevale keeps it moving until Lucas ties his hands.

Note that Theatre Out has moved; it’s still in Santa Ana, not far from the old space at 402 W. 4th St. Coming up: the edgy “Corpus Christi,” which Rude Guerrilla presented in its West Coast debut in the same nabe; and that terrific musical, “The Drowsy Chaperone.”
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“Lesson Before Love” (a new DVD release from Breaking Glass Pictures) is a seemingly plotless film about modern professional African Americans who are tired of the single life. Dui Jarrod’s debut feature eventually meanders into the bedroom and elsewhere but the talk is so thick it’s likely bore the socks off you before it gets there.

Jeri Brown’s “Echoes” (available on CD from Jongleur Productions) could almost be the soundtrack for “Lesson Before Love,” but it’s much classier than the movie; Brown’s lush, melodic vocals send this 11-track vocal jazz album soaring. A bonus DVD of the singer and her three-piece band live at Hollywood’s Catalina Jazz Club is included.

The Chance-a-thon, a fundraiser for the Anaheim Hills theatre, takes place Mar. 22-23, from 10 am Saturday to 10 pm Sunday.

More from Jordan:

Academy Award Losers, 1912-1939:
Great Performances in the Oscar Hall of Shame, Vol. 1

Dangerous entertainers: Smothers Brothers, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez

Dean Martin and Edie Adams shows on DVD, Cinerama films restored

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