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Unicorn?s ?Little Dog? Explores Gay Hollywood
March 12, 2008
by Paul Donovan

Click For Full Size The Unicorn?s new show The Little Dog Laughed was nominated for a Tony for best play in 2007. It is no surprise. Playing on America?s never-ending fascination with the secret sex lives of celebrities, The Little Dog Laughed is a witty, sexy play. It?s about Mitchell, a secretly gay actor, and his relationship with his lesbian manager Diane, as he starts to open the closet door.

Mitchell is a hunky guy-next-door type (Nathan Darrow was a great casting choice) on the verge of real stardom. The problem is, his suppressed homosexuality is getting the better of him, and he?s getting tired of late-night drunken romps with prostitutes. During one of these encounters, he meets Alex, who finds himself drawn to Mitchell in some way that?s different from his other tricks. Mitchell finds himself similarly drawn to Alex, and the two begin wrestling with their demons.

Mitchell agonizes over his need to keep his sexual orientation secret (particularly during negotiations to play a gay man in a new movie) and his growing affection for Alex. Alex, on the other hand, doesn?t know what to make of his feelings for Mitchell, especially because Alex has always been in it ?only for the money? and has a girlfriend, Ellen.

As Diane (played by Kansas City force Donna Thomason) and Ellen become aware of the relationship among the two men, they both try to offer their own advice, which just makes everything more confusing. Eventually the four find themselves in a predicament that only Hollywood may be able to fix.

The script is clever and funny. It also does a good job of capturing the confusion that grown men feel when their settled lives are suddenly called into question. Yes, it?s true, in case you haven?t heard ? there is a good amount of full-frontal male nudity from the main actors, which is sure to be a draw. But don?t let that distract you ? the nudity here is more than naughty fun. It?s a visceral testament to the two characters baring themselves to another man for the first time ever. It?s a concrete symbol of the awkward but undeniable attraction that must run its course like a flash flood, before finding a new track.

The two Unicorn acting veterans, Darrow and Thomason, give fine performances ? their sense of timing works well for the humor of the piece, and they make a good pair. However, the surprises of the production are the two Unicorn debuts. Michelangelo Milano and Rachel May Roberts command attention every time they are on stage.

Now, let?s get this out of the way ? Michelangelo Milano is hot. Ummm, really hot. But that?s not what I?m talking about here. Milano has not only a dripping sexuality, but an easy-going intelligence that puts the lie to the concept of dumb pretty boys. He gives us a matter-of-fact portrayal of a hustler; someone with a friendly, almost subconscious casual acknowledgment that his body is his job. Milano?s Alex is not a porn-star box cover, but a real man with a real life who is caught up in a surprising situation. And Rachel May Roberts nearly steals every scene she?s in: I?ve known many twenty-something girls with the same cynically hip swagger covering up a real vulnerability. It was a real treat to watch these two actors, and I very much hope we?ll see both of them again in the future.

The Little Dog Laughed, which will run through March 30, is a fresh look at the age-old human love of scandal, and the scandal of love. The concept is brought up to date with an attractive, professional cast and a script that outdoes many similar treatments.

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The Tenth Voice

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