The Dying Gaul

Hollywood is full of soulless jerks. Tell us something we don't know.

Before he penned The Dying Gaul in 1995, Craig Lucas was best known as a romantic playwright with a knack for sly social commentary. Lucas took an angry, dark turn with The Dying Gaul, which depicts the destructiveness of AIDS compounded by the soul-sucking nature of Hollywood. Sadly, Lucas' heartfelt story fails to earn its shocking end. It doesn't help that he's probing a well-worn topic — the mean things people in Hollywood do. As the protagonist, a young gay screenwriter, actor Michael Phillis has a sweet, alluring aura that draws us into his tale, and the production has an easy, bubbly pace that works well against all the tricks Lucas has up his sleeve. But the production also suffers from an utter lack of sexual chemistry between the three leads. (Moaning in the dark before a scene that climaxes in an awkward office-chair-to-office-chair embrace only makes matters worse.) Without the visible lust for fame and money and power that brings these people together, the repulsion that eventually drives them to screw each other over becomes tepid at best. Without the fire underneath, the final moment of tragic destiny only earns a shrug and a passing thought of, well, you sold out to Hollywood — what did you expect? Molly Rhodes


Through March 4, Tickets are $22-34; call 861-8972 or visit
New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness Avenue (at Market St.), S.F.

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