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Theater Review (LA): ‘No Homo: A Bromantic Tragedy’ at the Hollywood Fringe

Ash (Jonny Rodgers) and Luke (Benjamin Durham), best friends and roommates for years, are shocked to discover that their friends and family think that they're secretly involved. This forces them to examine their relationship more closely, and they're surprised by what they find — they literally are a sexless, dysfunctional couple. Although they both identify as heterosexual, Ash hasn't had a girlfriend in years, and Luke, who is currently dating Babette (Elizabeth Ellson), wants to "take it slow." Meanwhile, Ash's brother, Serge (AJ Jones) is in an unsatisfying relationship of his own with flighty, promiscuous Kris (Henry McMillan), who won't…

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Summary : Brandon Baruch’s new comedy is an amusing and well-directed observation of the fluid nature of sexuality among L.A. 20-somethings.

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Ash (Jonny Rodgers) and Luke (Benjamin Durham), best friends and roommates for years, are shocked to discover that their friends and family think that they’re secretly involved. This forces them to examine their relationship more closely, and they’re surprised by what they find — they literally are a sexless, dysfunctional couple. Although they both identify as heterosexual, Ash hasn’t had a girlfriend in years, and Luke, who is currently dating Babette (Elizabeth Ellson), wants to “take it slow.”

Meanwhile, Ash’s brother, Serge (AJ Jones) is in an unsatisfying relationship of his own with flighty, promiscuous Kris (Henry McMillan), who won’t commit to a monogamous relationship. And Luke’s sister, Chrissy (Lizzie Adelman), puts the kibosh on her brother’s budding romance with Babette by informing her that he’s gay. It all comes to a head when the perplexed roomies decide to explore the boundaries of their friendship.

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Benjamin Durham and Jonny Rodgers

Playwright Brandon Baruch clearly knows these characters. They’re all people we’ve met before, and their words are not only funny but also ring true. He knows where they’re going, too. The audience is invested in all of their stories, including the just-out lesbian Chrissy and the sweetly naive Babette, who unfortunately keeps falling for gay men. The characters of Serge and Kris also serve as an interesting contrast to those of Ash and Luke.

Under Jessica Hanna’s able direction, the actors all inhabit their roles beautifully, knowing when a subtle gesture or slow burn will add just the right zing to a line. Chrissy has the most potential to be grating, but Adelman gives her just the right determined brassiness to keep her amusing. McMillan brings dimension to what could have been just another clichéd character. Rodgers, who starts off in “bro” mode, makes Ash softer and more vulnerable as he begins to accept his true feelings for Luke. It’s an effective touch.

David Offner and Brittany Blouch’s set design is spare, in keeping with the limitations of the Fringe, but it does the job. The sound design by Corwin Evans and the lighting by Ric Zimmerman provide the atmosphere of a nonstop dance party, which is appropriate for the piece. Laura Wong’s costumes are also letter-perfect.

The show is headed for FringeNYC in August, where it ought to get as enthusiastic reception as it did in L.A. No Homo: a Bromantic Tragedy plays June 26 and 29 at Schkapf Menagerie (Main Stage), 6567-6585 Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood. Consult the Fringe schedule for tickets and showtimes.

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About Kurt Gardner

Writer, critic and marketing expert whose passion for odd culture knows no bounds.