A Very Distracting ‘Night With Reg’

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Perhaps it’s a reflection of the increasingly narrow spectrum in our social and ideological dialogues, but controversy in the theater these days seems to have drawn an all too comfortable perimeter around the topic of sexual orientation. It’s no surprise, therefore, that the Knightsbridge Theatre--the prolific company known primarily for its abundant revivals of familiar classics--chose the gay-themed British play “My Night With Reg” for its current walk on the wild side.

A dramedy about the crisscrossed romantic pursuits of a sextet of homosexual men caught up in the rampant death toll of the AIDS pandemic, Kevin Elyot’s play makes its most lasting impression through an extended scene of full-frontal male nudity.

While I have nothing but admiration for any actor’s ability to remember and deliver lengthy dialogue wearing not a stitch before an audience of strangers, after the first five minutes or so I couldn’t help wondering if director Dana Moran Williams might not be drawing attention too far south of the play’s more thoughtful concerns.


Underneath all its gratuity, the piece offers a well-performed, sweetly poignant story of unrequited love. Guy (David Ferguson), a shy theater director-turned-copywriter is anguished over being middle-aged and single. He learns, just as he’s about to open his heart, that John (James Lunsford), the narcissistic object of his long-hidden affections, has fallen in love with the unseen--and short-lived--titular Reg. Reg’s extensive sexploits have left posthumous complications for everyone in Guy’s circle, including the flamboyantly swishy Daniel (Jon Cohen), a carefree young house painter (Andrew Boyle, standing in for Alex Stone), the quietly eloquent Benny (Paul Duff, in a standout supporting turn), and the annoyingly fastidious Bernie (Jim Barkley). Initial bawdy humor gives way to the sobering legacy of love and death in the time of AIDS.


“My Night With Reg,” Knightsbridge Theatre, 35 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena. Fridays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, noon. Ends Sept. 16, then reopens at 1944 Riverside Drive, L.A., Nov. 16-Dec. 30. Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 5 p.m. $22. (626) 440-0821. Running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes.