Sometimes, an unexpected event stimulates further events that probably are going to happen anyway but maybe not as quickly and not quite in the way that the trigger ignites them. In this West Coast premiere of Beguelin’s Harbor, the seemingly bucolic life of two gay men -- Ted the architect and Kevin the writer -- is abruptly disrupted by surprise house guests to their very proper, New England house . Entering the scene are Kevin’s younger sister whom he has not seen in years and her almost fifteen-year-old daughter. They arrive in their home, an old van, and they arrive with a plan to stay much longer than the gay couple can imagine. Sister Donna is a swearing, often out-of-control ‘child’ whose very mature daughter must often assume the parent role. But, Donna’s ‘madness’ is well-calculated in a plan to plop into this wonderful gay home a yet-unknown-to-anyone-else baby that she is soon to deliver, fathered by one of her many one-night flings.
As tensions rise, secrets tumble; pent-up frustrations boil over; and new bonds among the four begin to take hold. We soon find out that not all is so perfect in the gay home. Our writer has been working on a novel for ten years that he cannot even describe in one sentence. Our architect is in fact tired of being the only breadwinner for a guy who rarely leaves the house. And Sister Donna is eating this up because she is so sure a child is exactly what will make this home once again the dream spot she believes it to be.
Teri Whipple is strong in her portrayal of this eccentric, drinking, pot-smoking sister who sees herself as a singing star on a cruise ship in the Caribbean, if only she does not have to raise another child who has no known father. Scott Cox and Andrew Nance are good in bringing Kevin and Ted to life; but they unfortunately too often play into gay stereotypes in their portrayals to get laughs that actually do not come very heartily from the audience. Jenna Herz, a sophomore in real life, is really the star of the show. Her Lottie is the thread that ties this story together as she maturely plays the one ‘adult’ among the four even though her character so wants just be a normal teenager guided and cared for by a real and normal adult.
Ed Decker’s direction and Devin Kasper’s scenic designs are also stars of this show. There are a lot of scene changes that could bog down the pace; but through the use of a living room picture window that becomes a scrim mirror into many other venues (café, shopping center, parking lot, the van/home, etc.), there is never a moment’s pause as various pairs escape the mounting havoc of Ted’s and Kevin’s home.
While not perfect and a bit soap-opera-ish, this comedy/drama is highly engrossing and enjoyable. Its unexpected beginning leads eventually to an unexpected ending, but an ending that makes a lot of sense now that we have gotten to know these four so well.
Rating: 4 E’s