Only Disconnect

A long-simmering play about the ties that bind tells us nothing new

Similarly, despite the risqué subject matter, Crucifixion is unprovocative. Its method of connecting with NCTC's largely gay audience is to please the crowd: feeding people what they want to see and (I suspect) what they already know to be true about gay life in San Francisco. I'm not suggesting that the play shouldn't be entertaining. But the one or two disjointed moments of fresh ironic insight about the correlation of religion and sex -- as encapsulated, for example, by a carload of newly ordained priests out on the prowl for some firm young meat -- are undermined by the gratuitous use of male nudity. McNally's story could just as easily have been told without the flailing penises and hairy butts. But judging by other shows I've seen at NCTC, perhaps spectators here have come to expect them as part of the experience.

There's no better place on Earth for creating connections than the theater. Unlike the one-way relationship between creator and audience that goes with the consumption of most books, films, paintings, and other forms of art, the intimacy and temporality of live theater make it possible to create interactions that are truly reciprocal. Ultimately, the task of any writer, director, or actor working on the stage is to find ways to engage audience members that are more than skin deep. It's the only way we'll ever make sense of our obsession with connecting the dots.

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