THEATER REVIEW: “The Closet” @ Williamstown Theatre Festival [Berkshire on Stage]
Review by Macey Levin
Photograph by Carolyn Brown
Martin O’Reilly is divorced, his son won’t speak to him, he’s probably going to be fired from a job he doesn’t like at a Catholic religious supplies warehouse, he has no prospects for another job, he has no money and he owns a huge white elephant of a house. This is the making of The Closet by Douglas Carter Beane, a hilarious play currently making its world premiere at the Williamstown Theatre Festival.
Martin, wonderfully acted by Matthew Broderick, has advertised on-line for a tenant to share his house. Ronnie Wilde (Brooks Ashmanskas), a stitch as an exuberant, middle-aged gay man, arrives at the office and insists on renting the apartment. After an extensive gossipy conversation regarding Martin’s plight, he decides to surreptitiously assist him to keep his job first by telling Martin’s co-worker Brenda Mishima (Ann Harada) and then by writing to bloggers he knows informing them of his newfound “husband.” In today’s world of political correctness, who would fire a gay man without enduring a critical bombardment? Ronnie‘s “propaganda” also convinces Patricia (Jessica Hecht), another colleague who has a crush on Martin, and his boss Roland (Will Cobbs) that Martin is truly a homosexual. Ronnie is something of a deus ex machina bringing insight and safety to the people around him.
Later that day Ronnie returns to inform Martin of his campaign to save his job, the clerk is aghast as he reads the bloggerati on the internet. When Jack (Ben Ahlers), his teenage son who has expressed his hatred for his father, gushes his admiration for Martin’s “bravery” by coming out of the closet, Martin states in front of everyone, “I’m gay!” Thus begins a romp of hilarity and smashing performances.