At the very least, we can say this about Truth, Tony & Zenith: there were no gratuitous cock-flappings. That's because unlike most queer-centered theater companies (those that are always run by gay men), the OUT Theatre's debut production is made up almost entirely of women, including—wild guess—a lesbian or three. So is the theater's board of directors, which may bode well for lesbo and hetero women alike, two groups without a consistent stage anywhere south of LA.
While a lot of gay-male theater troupes try to lure audiences through blatant homosexual appeal (Naked Boys Singing, anyone?), the OUT folks were clearly aiming for the heart and head with the two one-acts and single performance piece that comprise Truth, Tony & Zenith. But on opening night, the results were mixed: lines stepped on, dialogue that sometimes sounded like night of the living dead; minimal lighting, an audio system that crackled annoyingly overhead, and several actors in need of voice coaching—in a room this tiny (once a Sacks SFO outlet), it shouldn't be so hard to hear key lines. Forgivable? Yes, especially for a brand-new theater and its company, but it's the sort of amateurism we hope vanishes with more frequent performances.
The Truth Never Does is a measure of how much the TV sitcom has straitjacketed theater. Four ladies lunch around a table and dish all about their girlfriends and their friends' girlfriends—kind of like the Sex & the City chicks as middle-aged lesbians, but not nearly as tantalizing.
Better is Thea Iberall's When I Was Called Tony, which follows the relationship of Alex and Kate from the moment they meet to Kate's cancer death, as well as the hurdles they leap in between. Most interesting are the dream sequences that cut up the more significant life moments Alex and Kate deal with (including Kate getting pummeled by her husband for daring to fall for a woman), sequences that make no sense when they're first introduced, but lovingly wrap up everything by the play's hopeful denouement. Unfortunately, the audience was restless during the frequent set changes between dream and reality.
Rainbow Zenith conjures up every nightmarish performance-art clich. Watch—and just try not to laugh—as the hot lady onstage in the tight bra takes a colored veil off the gay pride flag, dances with it and acts out the range of emotions (turn-ons and turn-offs) that each hue evokes in her. There's plenty of grasping at air as she spouts, "Winning in Vegas! Losing a child at Disneyland! Hormonal imbalances! Louis Armstrong! World peace! Clear, concise communication! Sept. 11, 2001! Wallowing in the past! Everything and nothing!" and so on as Enigma's "Return to Innocence" blares unforgivingly between all the gyrating. Funny as hell, though.
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TRUTH, TONY & ZENITH AT THE OUT THEATRE, 2101 E. BROADWAY, LONG BEACH, (562) 985-3222; WWW.THEOUTTHEATRE.ORG. FRI.-SAT., 8 P.M.; SUN., 2 P.M. THROUGH NOV. 24. $15.