August 13, 2004

Publication Date: Friday, August 13, 2004

Mountain View gets 'Snakebit'

Show is first for fledgling gay theater company

by Julie O'Shea

Michael is a former ballet dancer who is having a nervous breakdown because his lover left him for a younger man, and he's dangerously close to losing his job as a social worker.

Jonathan is Michael's best friend from childhood. He's straight, he's an actor and he's also a total jerk.

Jenifer is Jonathan's insecure wife, who, interestingly enough, had a one-night stand with Michael years ago.

As fate would have it, the three find themselves holed up in Michael's Los Angeles bungalow for one nightmarish weekend.

This might sound like a storyline from daytime television, but in fact it's the basis for the plot of "Snakebit," a comedy-drama by David Marshall Grant. The play will run through Aug. 22 at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts' Second Stage.

"Snakebit" marks the first production for Theatre Q, a fledging acting troupe whose mission is "to provide evolving images of gays and lesbians."

"We are not really interested in doing the sensational kind of stuff," said Dale Albright, who plays Michael.

"Snakebit," which was nominated in 1999 for both Drama Desk and Critic's Circle awards, is Grant's first stab at playwriting. As complicated as his story may seem, Grant said "Snakebit" has a very simple message.

"It's about that moment in life when one decides to be courageous. Or not," said Grant, whose credits include television's "thirtysomething." "Mostly, it's about two men and a woman who love each other very much."

Albright promised the Mountain View production will be filled with both laughter and tears. He warned, however, that this show may not be one for the kids: "It's got some language in it."

Jeffrey Hoffman, who plays Jonathan, said he was tired of seeing the stereotypical way the stage portrayed gays: overly flamboyant and often naked. Frustrated, he and several of his friends in the Chicago area formed Theatre Q and began staging shows using whatever space and props their sparse resources could afford. (For a long time they used Hefty garbage bags for stage curtains.) Their first endeavor was a production entitled "An Evening of Fully Clothed Gay and Lesbian Theatre."

Shortly after Hoffman moved to California in early 2001, he sought to resurrect the defunct Theatre Q. He joined forces with Albright and Dana Lewenthal, who plays Jenifer.

"I think 'Snakebit' is a progression from plays of the early '80s -- the 'I'm gay, pity me' (type of shows.)," Hoffman said.

"Snakebit," Hoffman added, seemed like a logical first play for the company, which is already looking at scripts for its second season.

After Mountain View, the show will move to the Dean Lesher Performing Arts Center in Walnut Creek for a four-week run in October.
Julie O'Shea is a staff writer for the Voice, the Weekly's sister newspaper in Mountian View. She can be e-mailed at joshea@mv-voice.com.


What: David Marshall Grant's "Snakebit," presented by Theatre Q, CAPA and Dragon Productions


Where: Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts' Second Stage, 500 Castro St. (corner of Mercy)


When: Through Aug. 22. Show times are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m.


Cost: Tickets are $15-$20


Info: Please call (650) 903-6000.


 
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