THIRD PARTY: A MOONLIGHT MATING GAME OR MIDSUMMER APPROACHES . . . , Party Productions, at the Theatre Building. David Dillon has cranked the handle on his money-making Party machine a third time, and the results are truly depressing. Party itself always struck me as a case of the emperor’s new clothes: starved for any sort of positive representation, the gay community good-naturedly embraced the production, ignoring the fact that it’s ultimately a rather shallow comedy. Yet Party has a certain joyful abandon, an abandon that seemed calculated in Girl Party, which was less successful: sitcom high jinks and the promise of nudity proved less of a draw for the lesbian crowd. And in Third Party the abandon is downright contrived. Here playwright, actor, and codirector Dillon brings together characters from Party and Girl Party to spend the weekend at a gay resort, where they’re forced to share a one-bedroom cabin for the night.

Issues abound. Gay parenting, coming out to one’s family, marriage, HIV, and the relationship between the gay and lesbian communities are all brought up with the aplomb of public-service announcements, discussed and discarded so that we can move on to the more important business of getting the better bodies in the cast out of their clothes. The lesbian couple, who want a child, are featureless and humorless, and the three gay men there to donate sperm are blandly attractive and predictably witty. The other characters are superfluous; one of them tackles a monologue about coming out and then all but disappears. Ted Bales is back chewing scenery as the flamboyant Father Ray; ostensibly he’s there to bless the efforts to conceive, but mostly it’s just to try to keep this sucker afloat. His efforts are shrill, and small wonder. The exposition is leaden, the laughs forced, and the stereotypes fully indulged. Neither the gay community nor the theater community needs parties like this.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/E.G. Pratt.