Consent—a new play written and directed by David Rhodes—wants you to know, first and foremost, that it’s an important production. The play wears its ideas on its sleeve, yet that sleeve is repeatedly beating you over the head. It’s deeply sincere but also suffocating; moments of humor are few and far between, and it’s only when the script pivots away from its darker subject matter that it truly feels alive.
Ron (Mark McCullough Thomas) an ex-NFL player turned successful architect, has recently come out of the closet, and meets Kurt (Michael Goldstein, trying as hard as he can to let you know he’s a capital-A actor), a young Yale law student, on a subway platform and the two quickly enter into a fling. One night Kurt assaults Ron, and the older man struggles to find a way to process the trauma or to explain the situation to his soon-to-be-ex-wife Susie (Angela Pierce) and older sister, Emily (Orange is the New Black’s Catherine Curtin).
Consent has an interesting set-up, but the play fumbles in creating believable dynamics between the characters. In fact, it often seems that everyone besides Curtin’s Emily as a sociopathic streak and playwright Rhodes seems entirely unaware of this. The script seems determined to make you sympathize with the rapist, even though he is depicted as completely unrepentant and cruel. The rape is graphic and unexpected, and Ron’s reaction to it is somewhat puzzling. The dialogue between Kurt and Ron feels especially strained here, as Rhodes makes both men needlessly crude and feels the audience must be continually reminded what sex between gay men consists of.
That being said, the actors are all quite good, especially Curtin. She’s brings refreshing humor to dilute the self-seriousness of the whole thing. Still, it’s hard to be too excited about Consent, especially—as with one of its protagonists—it seems determined to force you into positions you have no interest in assuming. C