Jordan Harrison’s Log Cabin opened last night at Playwrights Horizon and is following the trend of theatre this year but taking it one step further. Starting off in 2012, in the posh, Brooklyn apartment belonging to lesbian couple Pam (Cindy Cheung) and Jules (Dolly Wells), as they discuss how Ezra (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) told his father about his engagement to Chris (Phillip James Brannon), wherein his father countered back with the AIDS epidemic and “…retribution, for their behaviors.” They are all dismayed by his father’s offensive comments, but are they any better? After all, Ezra and Jules tauntingly refer to each other as “one percent”. Pam and Jules break the news they are planning to be parents with Jules stating, “It’s here. The gay takeover we’ve been plotting, all this time.” And Ezra stating, “Now this country will face our gay, gay wrath.”
In the next scene, a year later, Pam and Jules have given birth to Hartley. Another year later, and Hartley is one. This time, Ezra talks about his friend Helen, who is now Henry (Ian Harvie) and his girlfriend Myna (Talene Monahon). The four make cracks about Henry and it is clear they do not understand the transgender world. Hartley wakes up and Jules goes to comfort what is a grown-up baby (Ian Harvie). The two have a conversation where Jules tells a bedtime story about how she really wasn’t ready for a child. She tells Hartley that they mostly love the baby. On the baby monitor in the other room, we only hear gurgles and coos.
At age two, the four are joined by Henry and Myna, who describe their sex life. Henry claims the LGBQ’s are not fighting strong enough for the Trans population and states “And for me it’s still three more decades of public bathroom legislation, three more decades of driving to the f**king desert to find people who are like-minded, so yeah, I think you belong in a category of people who are easier for society to accept, and there’s a name for that category and it’s called a ‘cis male.’” As everyone retires to the roof deck, Jules and Henry check on Hartley who is in a teepee. The two come on to each other as Myna overhears and stops the others from discovering the indiscretion. When fidelity is preached by Henry, Myna gives the typical millennial tirade, that just makes you want to scratch your head and wonder. “You all have so much. It’s disgusting. Don’t you find it disgusting? What are you contributing? Who are you lifting up? Maybe you cared about something at some point, when you were struggling, but as soon as you got a foothold, as soon as your own rights were taken care of, you just (making a “swhoomp” sound and gesture) –out the window.” As Myna leaves, Henry follows. Chris, who wants a baby, stalks out feeling that his needs are not being met and Jules goes to the roof filled with guilt.
Later that evening, Chris has a dream about going down on a Nazi Captain Von Trap. When Ezra realizes this, he role plays and agrees to have a child with Chris. Chris and Ezra meet up with Henry at a bar to ask Henry to be the surrogate, which he finally agrees to.
Chris and Ezra meet up with Henry at a bar to ask Henry to be the surrogate, which he finally agrees to.
A year later, Henry is pregnant, and Ezra has left Chris because he cheated on him with a cab driver down the street from there house. Pam tells Ezra that he must forgive Chris and accept this as the new normal. To forgive, allow, and accept. “Make new rules.”
The final scene has both baby’s (one now played by Phillip James Brannon), discussing the words we need to make-up for the “new normal”. Hartley who has refused to speak, now at four states, “If you don’t talk, none of it has to begin. You’ll stay in your room, and the balloons will come once a year, and nothing will change. And there’ll be no story.”
The acting here is superb, with Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s comic timing on point. We feel his stressed-out anxiety and how wanting a committed relationship in a world where morals seem nowhere to be seen, can be disheartening. Ms. Wells is his perfect counterpoint with a superb amount of caustic humor thrown in. We can understand why the calm Brannon would be the one to cheat. We can see the seething rage of always having to take care of one’s partner. Ms. Cheung is the biggest surprise, speaking in monosyllables until she finally gets to speak her mind in the eleven o’clock monologue. Mr. Harvie makes his points, as does Ms. Monahon with wit and a zealousness that belongs to those who feel they aren’t being heard.
Pam MacKinnon’s direction keeps the laughs coming and the show moving along. Allen Moyer’s turntable set gives the feeling of space and allows us to be in different locations. Jessica Pabst’s costumes, Leah Gelpe’s sound design, and Russell H. Champa ‘s subtle lighting set us in the perfect time frame.
Jordan Harrison’s play is witty, well written and thought-provoking. I am not sure why the play is called Log Cabin, but yes, the conversation needs to be open for all. If we are to survive, there needs to be some kind of balance, not just for the LGBTQ, but also for the straight community with some kind of morality clause. If not, we will be free spinning into a world of chaos. Oh wait, we already are.
Log Cabin: Playwrights Horizon, 416 West 42nd St., until July 15th.