* Written by Austin Pendleton * Directed by Courtney Moorehead * Starring George Morfogen and Gale Harold * Soho Playhouse, New York City.

The Rebellion Theater Companys Off-Broadway production of *Uncle Bob* is an object lesson in the difference between TV acting and stage acting. Written by Austin Pendleton, who is better-known as a good character actor, the play has been mounted ostensibly as a showcase for the director Courtney Moorehead, who’s not long out of school. But what’s drawing crowds to the tiny Soho Playhouse is the onstage appearance of Gale Harold, who plays Brian Kinney in Showtimes *Queer as Folk*.

Harold is the kind of actor the camera loves. Like the spoiled child in a large family, he doesn’t have to do much. He gets to be an exquisite surface, while everybody else does the work for him. Onstage, he’s just another lightly trained actor slouching and changing T-shirts. His energy doesn’t radiate beyond the first row.

In *Uncle Bob*, he plays the title characters homophobic nephew Josh, who has taken the Greyhound bus in from the Midwest to look after his uncle who has AIDS (veteran classical actor George Morfogen, who like Pendleton is a regular on HBO's *Oz*). The dialogue is more Albee-absurdist than earnest drama. "This virus happened ‘cause someone fucked a monkey and you got it ‘cause you took it up the ass," Josh tactfully announces. In the hands of excellent performers, the play might conceivably be a blackly humorous over-the-top actors exercise. But in this threadbare production, with actors who lightly skim the surface, it’s more of an embarrassment, like something the dog left on the carpet.

The Advocate, June 19, 2001

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