Milt to last
"Milton's Way" uses episodes from three decades in one man's life to explore gay history from Stonewall to today.
By JOSHUA TANZER
Milton's paradise was lost within a few years after he discovered it, if you start counting from the young gay man's introduction to fleshly delights at the hands of a lusty older man and stop at the beginning of the AIDS crisis. We watch Milton navigate 30 years of history in a well-conceived personal tale that mirrors the journey of gay America as a whole.
We first see Milton (played adroitly from callow kid to mature middle-ager by Bill Dobbins, previously seen in the very good "Triptych") as a young college frosh getting his first initiation to gay life at the hands of the aggressively macho Ochs (Ross C. Steeves), an encounter he'll have to live down for years to come when he has a more decent bunch of friends. Ochs is a '70s guy who just loves a good lay he has no use for queeny troublemakers like the ones at Stonewall.
|Written and directed by: Ted Williams.|
Cast: Bill Dobbins, Gary Dooley, Ross C. Steeves, Hans Von Rittern, Scott Mitchell Kelly, Ravi L. Stutz, Susan James, Brian Miller.
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"We're special and different," Milton tells him as he grapples with the line he's just crossed into gay identity.
"We're special," Ochs retorts. "They're different."
"You must be a Republican," Milton says.
Milton passes through the '70s and '80s in a succession of vignettes that find him with a gentle older man (Gary Dooley), whose melancholy breakup line to him is "Milton, stay sweet." Life isn't terribly sweet from there, though, as he dates a life-of-the-party queen with muscles and a big blond afro (Hans Von Rittern), a smooth, well-to-do attorney (Scott Mitchell Kelly) who believes in open relationships, and a mercurial drama pixie named Pip (Tavi L. Stutz). He also has an inconclusive wrangle with his mom he angrily forces her to face his homosexuality for the first time but her tentative baby steps show that a real reconciliation is still far away.
The play grapples with some of the topics you'd expect coming out, family conflict, AIDS, death. But it also brings up some less expected subjects, like the passage of knowledge and experience from one generation to the next, and how it feels, as one character says, to "grow old and gay," especially when so many people in one's support system died young. The play covers a lot of issues but never becomes either maudlin or dull. With consistently sharp writing (including some funny lines and exceptionally raunchy sex talk), a good command of character and overall excellent acting, it uses the story of one life to comment on a lot of lives.
|MARCH 12, 2002|
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