'Sleeping': Gays on Waikiki Beach

There are occasional transcendent glimmers of emotional redemption in Godfrey Hamilton's monologue "Sleeping With You," staged by David Prescott at Theatre/Theater in Hollywood. Love without expectations or price tags is the state of grace desperately sought and all-too-briefly cherished by his two characters, both portrayed by Mark Pinkosh.

Setting their doomed union against the near-relentless squalor of male prostitution on Waikiki Beach, however, Hamilton's often forceful writing wallows in grungy detail. So much so that neither Andrew, the aging hustler fighting his losing battle with AIDS, nor Marco, the 20-year-old naif who falls for him, ever warrant more than pity.

The solo-performer conceit overlaid on this simple, sordid romance is a distracting gimmick often sabotaged by the need for rapid role-switching. Pinkosh lacks the performance versatility to pull off a convincing conversation between the two--his characterizations are way too similar.

Partway through, the play takes a sharp turn into impassioned but mostly familiar polarizing rhetoric that isn't likely to make inroads with audiences outside the gay community. Not that that seems to matter much in this play. The us-against-them resentments seething just beneath its surface may reflect an oppressed minority's understandable defensive posturing, but the upshot is a work that's less of a drama than a ceremony for members only.

* "Sleeping With You," Theatre/Theater, 1713 Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood. Wednesdays - Fridays, 8 p.m. Ends July 21. $10. (213) 850-6941. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.

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