“Slipping” almost slipped through town without me noticing. But I am certainly glad I did.
This four character play, at San Francisco New Conservatory Theatre Center through July 1, deals with Eli and his mother who move at the beginning of the show from the city to Iowa. Reasons behind the move aren’t told to us at first, adding a bit of intrigue. But through well crafted flashbacks, we learn a bit about Eli’s interest in another young man who can’t seem to come out of the closet and his mother’s indiscretions.
Live in Iowa isn’t all bad – except when you’re a blue-haired gay teen who has troubling finding like-minded forward-thinking progressive school mates.
Having interviewed lead actor Evan Johnson, I was surprised how much like Eli he is not. Certainly a reflection on his good acting abilities, but Johnson draws a complex, shattered picture of the troubled teen and makes you feel for him in one scene and loathe him in another.
But the real tragic character in “Slipping” is played by Fernando Navales, who plays Chris, the object of Eli’s affection. Navales is more than good to look at. He shows the self-hate and angst many gay people have suffered when it’s so difficult to come out of the closet due to society and prejudice in one’s own family.
Stacy Thunes as Eli’s mother and Benjamin T. Ismail as his friend in Iowa offer great support, but the show really belongs to Johnson and Navales.
Writer Daniel Talbott also deserves kudos for covering a lot of ground in a short period of time (play is 80 minutes or so with no intermission). Also noteworthy is the production designs of Christian Mejia and sets by Ron Gasparinetti for creating the stark sets that seem so adaptable from bedroom to classroom as well as Stephen Abts' sound design which enhances every scene.
Learn more about “Slipping” and to get tickets at www.nctcsf.org.