BURNING BLUE * Written by DMW Greer * Directed by John Hickok * Starring Mike Doyle and Chad Lowe * Samuel Beckett Theatre, New York City.

DMW Greerís play Burning Blue takes a Reefer Madness approach to homosexuality. Ostensibly a fictional condemnation of the U.S. militaryís hypocritical "donít ask, donít tell" approach to gay servicemen, this far-fetched melodrama presents homosexuality as a kind of science-fiction virus transmitted by the heady combination of red lights and disco music. 

After a prologue establishing that Dan Lynch (Mike Doyle) and Will Stephenson (Chad Lowe) are second-generation Navy aviators and that the latter suffers from night blindness that severely hampers his piloting abilities, the rest of the play takes place seven years later. Two Navy internal security agents receive an anonymous telephone tip that Dan and another officer named Matt Blackwood (Matthew Del Negro) were seen dancing together at a disco in Hong Kong. They launch a world-wide homo-hunt, focusing mostly on Dan, his three galley-mates (Will, Matt, and Charlie "Boner" Trumbo), and their wives and girlfriends. Supposedly, this matter is required to spare Lynchís high-ranking father embarrassment. And the audience knows that thereís something mysterious and potent afoot because Matt keeps having spells in which a red light washes over him and he loses his concentration. Special Agent Cokely (P.J. Brown), who lives with his mother and flunked out of flight school, seems to have a special mania for rooting out sexual deviants in the Navy. He grills his subjects with queries like, "Have you ever considered having sex with citizens of foreign countries, Communists, or small animals?" Bonerís reply: "Define small."

Thank God for Boner Trumbo! Without him, watching Burning Blue would be about as much fun as sticking knitting wasabi-dipped chopsticks in your eye. Especially as portrayed by ginger-haired, slinky-hipped Bill Dawes, Boner provides much-needed comic relief, extolling the pulchritude of Playboy centerfold Bambi Marie McGillicuddy and his cousin Larryís fellatio technique ("Boy, could he honk on Boboís nose!"). Dawes is also the only actor who seems to enjoy the obligatory nude scenes; while the other actors awkwardly keep their backs to the audience, the well-hung Dawes struts his stuff proudly, not once but twice. 

His scenes distract the audience, however briefly, from pondering such questions as: why would Dan conspire to conceal Willís dangerously impaired vision? Why would director John Hickok cast in a gay role an actor like Del Negro who is visibly uncomfortable kissing a man? And how on earth has such a nonsensical sub-soap-opera script gotten productions in London, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York?

The Advocate, November 26, 2002