Boys in the Band. The Penthouse Apartment, 37 W26th St, NYC 7pm Sun 28th March 2010 The playwright attended!
Just the anticipation of seeing this play was a pure delight. I have known about it all my life but never seen it, nor the movie. My mother went to see it in Sydney over 30 years ago and talked about it for a year or more! But the surprise of the night could not have been predicted by me.
The play was fresh, (almost) timeless and very familiar. Little had changed (rotary telephones notwithstanding; $20 no longer buys a hustler) and the play had every detail one could imagine about gay life in the city pre-HIV and pre 9/11. It is essentially a private gay birthday party with an unexpected and unwelcomed ‘straight’ arrival.
The play’s end, like its beginning, was marked by the young visitor from Long Island attending to each of the lamps around the apartment. After some generous applause, initially in the dark, we were asked by the director to stay in our seats as they introduced an old gent called Mart Crowley - the man who wrote the play! Only in New York!!
I was able to chat with Mr Crowley for a while about the Australian connection, queens through the ages and other things. He said that his play had a bumpy ride in Australia. Despite a successful seven month season in Sydney in 1968, when it moved to Melbourne the cast were apparently arrested and spent a night in custody due to a complaint to the Vice Squad. The episode made a mockery of the laws which apparently were changed shortly afterwards. In Adelaide some minor changes were required after an uncensored version was given for the Attorney General and his staff. I got this from a Google search and can only presume it was accurate (http://www.ains.net.au/~raystan/boys.html).
Mr Crowley kindly autographed my program as he was spirited off to a post party event. He seems to have written an almost timeless play and I am sorely embarrassed that I never saw it originally as most people who at least saw the movie if they missed the original runs of the play.
Comments by Andrew Byrne ..
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