ROPE ENOUGH written and directed by Sky Gilbert, with Gavin Crawford, Patrick Conner, Catherine McNally, Ryan McVittie and David Tomlinson. Presented by Cabaret Company at Buddies in Bad Times (12 Alexander). Runs to May 8, Thursday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $15, Sunday pwyc. 416-975-8555, www.buddiesinbadtimestheatre.com. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
The boys and girls at the buddies box office have their work cut out for them with Sky Gilbert 's Rope Enough . There will be bums in seats for Gilbert's latest, a fully realized and compelling departure from his other work.
Rope Enough reconfigures Alfred Hitchcock's 1948 film Rope to explore the queer subtext that the legendary director was obliged to downplay. For Gilbert, Rope Enough offers an opportunity to explore that subtext as well as the stereotypes society encourages to neutralize the things we find threatening.
Ichabod Malframe ( Gavin Crawford ) and his childlike boyfriend, Dylan ( David Tomlinson ), may have murdered Ichabod's parents, but an interview with reporter Cecilia ( Catherine McNally ) leads to a series of revelations. Her interest in Ichabod and Dylan challenges her friendship with her dear (gay) friend Bobbi ( Patrick Conner ) as she delves deeper into Ichabod's devious motives.
Gilbert's main question - whether stereotypes set boundaries for identity - may not be new, but his intelligent script gives this story bite.
Though the ensemble is strong, McNally's chilly Cecilia stands out opposite Crawford's malevolent turn as Ichabod.
During Ichabod's final monologue, Crawford's detached delivery disappoints. It makes sense for him to intellectualize the hell out of everything, but for a plot climax it's a letdown. I wanted to see Ichabod vulnerable at least once.
Set designer Steve Lucas 's clean visuals include an homage to Hitchcock late in the second act, when Ichabod speaks from offstage and a 10-foot silhouette of his profile is projected on the back wall.
A fitting tribute to a man who pushed the limits without sacrificing story.