Review: A song too long

Torch Song Trilogy

“Just listen.”

“Just listen.”

Photo courtesy of Resurrection Theatre

8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday; $15-$20. Resurrection Theatre, 1723 25th Street; (916) 223-9568; Through November 21.
Rated 3.0

There is so much that is so good about Resurrection Theatre’s production of Torch Song Trilogy that it seems a shame to have to mention what’s not so good about it.

Harvey Fierstein wrote and starred in the trilogy in stages, beginning with International Stud (Act 1) in 1978, Fugue in a Nursery (Act 2) in 1979, and Torch Song Trilogy (those two plus a concluding chapter) in 1981. Upon its debut, the final product was a groundbreaking play that sympathetically told the story of a gay, Jewish drag queen living in New York in the late 1970s and ’80s.

As Arnold Beckoff, Shawn B O’Neal delivers a tour de force performance, on stage for the entire four-plus hours (yes, it’s that long). His energy never flags as he exposes the fears, scars and longings of Arnold as he navigates life. Jon Jackson credibly plays Ed, a bisexual lover uncomfortable with his lusts. As Alan, the young model and Arnold’s true love until tragedy strikes, Anthony Raddigan reveals depths below the pretty face and body. Davis High School student James Hayakawa is well-cast as David, the troubled 15-year-old whom Arnold and Alan had hoped to adopt.

Except for Judith Jesness, who defines “Jewish mother” as the intolerant Mrs. Beckoff, the female roles are asides. Janey Pintar is Laurel, who cons Ed into marital not-quite bliss; and Melody Payne plays Lady Blues, a singer interjected between scenes in the first act. Lady does not sing the blues well and the character is the first thing directors Michael RJ Campbell and Sabrina Fiora should have cut to get the show in under four hours.