Robert, a British actor fast approaching middle age and in the increasing twilight of his career, awaits the arrival of late-teenage Alan, a staff worker at a small-scale repertory theatre in Boston where Robert is currently appearing in a production. The room, the address of which provides the play with its title, is the temporary lodging of Robert, and it’s clear in the careful, tidy way in which he prepares, the alert focus of his physicality, that the anticipation is for sexual congress. The monologue that opens the piece grounds the audience in the specific environment of the early 70’s, with all its cultural upheavals and seismic shifts of perception providing a giddy sense of any and all potential and possibility (of course presaging an even greater, and more cataclysmic eruptive shift to come just a decade later). The set production starkly supports the defined era, uncluttered but sharp in its furnishing detail. Alan, tremulous, aching with both desire and fear for what he wants from this meeting, soon arrives, and a slow seduction commences, equally tender and frustrating for the participants in its stop-and-start structure. The two attempt to speak across the gulf of age and experience, struggling to reach a common ground. Self-confidence and uncertainty, determination and hesitency continually snag upon each other, disrupting the dynamic. Alan’s eagerness and curious nature often conflicts with Robert’s rather more straightforward and blunt behaviour. As the play progresses, with earthier appetites sated, the men grow just a bit more reflective with one another, Robert confessing to flight from a broken long-term relationship (his at times glib pronouncements a mask and deflection of a degree of desperation), and Alan to uneasy feelings of isolation and estrangement. Poignantly, though, is that for Alan this encounter is monumental, as it offers the passage to a whole new realm of being, while for Robert the meaning and intention is much more simple and closed (although he is not portrayed as broadly unkind or mercenary), a momentary respite from loneliness and drift. Only in the final stages is there an unfortunate tendency to overexplicate (the bookending closing monologue, needlessly protracted, overstates themes and feelings already quietly and effectively communicated by the performers, Jay Taylor and Oliver Coopersmith). The meeting ends with a mix of satisfaction and wistfulness, a sense of business successfully transacted, two souls on opposing shores, left to reason out where they go from here. 46 Beacon continues through 29 April



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