A Fag & His Hag, Heartland Studio Theater. An oddball show desperately in need of a director to tighten some loose screws and an editor to remove a few dangling wires, this dialogue between a freaky gay man and his quirky, manic-depressive best friend–think Will and Grace for the Joy Division set–nonetheless turns like clockwork and is full of charmingly irreverent moments.

“Fag hag” is a highly misinterpreted term that grates on the ears of gays and straights alike, but as evidenced in this hour-long conversational piece it translates as a term of endearment of the highest order in the lexicon of gay-straight relations.

Your hosts for the evening are Kara Buller and Jeremy Wells, two eager-to-please twentysomething storytellers who recount in alternately funny and tedious detail the highs and lows of their 13-year friendship, beginning when Jeremy flamed it up in the hallways of their Crystal Lake high school. From then on their days were spent as any teenage friends’: hanging out, getting high, making fun of the popular kids.

Buller shows great comic promise, with a self-deprecating edge to her carefully enunciated phrasing, but Wells seems uncomfortable and awkward (although he does a hilarious job mimicking a school counselor). That both are tethered to music stands from which they read most of their material does great harm to a show in which the actors should absolutely be off book. And far too many gay-related questions are left unanswered. Did Jeremy not have any problems being so out so young? Did he not date? How did Kara’s parents react to him? One only wishes one’s youth were so trouble free.

–Erik Piepenburg