Pink, Bailiwick Repertory.
Douglas Wood is one of off-Loop theater’s busiest composers and musical directors, with credits ranging from Lifeline to Steppenwolf; in this Pride Performance Series production he steps out front as a singer and actor. Combining monologues, poetry, and soft-soul songs, Pink offers interlocking vignettes about gay life. One series of speeches concerns a Texas preacher’s son and his evolution from terrified teen to out-and-proud adult coping with the AIDS crisis; Wood puts an intriguing spin on the story by moving from the present to the past. Another group of sketches depicts a boozy old movie star on Merv Griffin’s talk show, reenacting her Oscar-winning scenes and paying tribute to “the funny boys” who supported her career. A third set of scenes portrays the tragicomic existence of one of those fans, a lonely queen hiding from life in his living room with a phone in one hand and a TV remote in the other. The songs include a disco-style ode to a go-go boy, a gospel-tinged gay-lib anthem called “I Am Not the First,” and a meltingly pretty ballad called “Tommy’s Fool.”
Wood’s script and score (which includes additional material by Mark Insko) are pretty good–some of his lines are quite funny, his serious moments are well structured, and he’s a fine tunesmith. But he’s not a strong enough performer to anchor what is essentially a one-man show despite the presence of two male dancers. Though Wood has a lovely singing voice with a flexible falsetto, his delivery is mechanical; his attempts at pop-star gesturing are not dynamic; and his dramatic characterizations lack variety and precision even when the emotions are honest. Pink is a showcase for a gifted writer who’s out of his depth onstage.