Con-Con’s ‘Log Cabin’ is a show past it’s ‘sell-by date’
Let’s first take a look at the characters. There is Ezra (Scott Zolkowski) who is high strung, opinionated and a bit demonstrative gay writer who is in great demand. He is married to Chris (Isaiah Betts) who is black, gay, shy and modest to the point of demure. They are friends with Pam (Carolyn Demanelis) who is a lesbian and works as an investment counselor for a major firm and is doing quite well. She hardly ever speaks being more comfortable to simply observe quietly from the side. She is married to Jules (Samantha Cocco) who is Ezra’s personality twin. They are eventually joined by Henry, formerly Ellen (Emmett Podgorski) who is trans (female to male but without the “gear”) and his straight girlfriend Myna (Lucy Turner).
In spite of the title, “Log Cabin” that refers to “Log Cabin Republicans” (a gay conservative group) these are non-political people of leisure who enjoy their creature comforts of expensive brownstones filled with tasteful furniture and quality booze. They are beyond the battles that gave them their present freedoms. The problem is they find themselves trapped in the straight world’s paradox that believes marriage and having children is the epitome of human fulfillment.
It begins with Ezra and Chris stopping by Jules and Pam’s apartment for crackers, cheese and drinks where Pam announces she is getting pregnant and wants Ezra to supply the sperm. This inspires Chris to also want to raise an offspring of his own within their own stable marriage which does not excite Ezra one bit. These are shallow people of the tenth degree which becomes evident when Chris has a culinary epiphany when he tries muenster cheese for the first time.
The two couples are soon joined by Henry and Myna. Ezra grew up with Henry who was known back then as Helen. After massive amounts of hormones Henry looks the part of a man complete with scruffy beard and macho (horny) demeanor. Into this enclave of peaceful social bliss Henry throws in a handful of salt and bitters. Everyone has their more buttons sticking out than a vintage adding machine (the ones with the handle on the right).
In my mind’s ear I could here the adding machine calculating their grievances, “tet-tet-tet-kabisch” the struggle of growing up affluent, black and gay...”tet-tet-tet-kabisch” the challenge of growing up white and gay...”tet-tet-tet-kabisch” being a lesbian in an all straight school...”tet-tet-tet-kabisch” growing up straight with out any social advantages or privileges. Spoiler alert, folks, childhood is tough on everyone no matter who or what they are. It is called “life” and under normal circumstances it sucks.
Henry banters the word cisgender (one whose personal identity and gender aligns with their birth sex). He feels that he is doing battle with “the cis”, the gays and the lesbians who have betrayed him and should support him with the same fight they exhibited for their own during the “gay wars.” This reveals how self adsorbed everyone has become. From here the story takes a twisted turn that goes into such subjects as gay marriage babies, breakups, unfaithfulness, trans pregnancy, a child who does not talk at four years old and the election of Donald Trump (whom it is assumed that nobody in the room went out to vote for Hillary during that election).
This LGBTQ version of “Friends” might have been relevant twenty, ten or maybe five years ago but the subject matter has been mined to the point of exhaustion and simply does not have the edge needed to grip the audience. The only thing missing is the laugh track.
This is not to say that the cast did not give it their all. In fact their performance far elevated the show more than it deserved. Even though they are hamstrung by the dialogue and weak story line they are still able to take emotion to a higher degree as they attempt to elevate the mundane. There simply are no surprises left to discover.
The show is co-directed by Eva Nel Brettrager and Cory Molner. Austin Hopson handles the light sound and projection (all of which were excellent). Amanda Rowe Van Allen is the costume designer. August Scarpelli does a grand job in set design with Kate Smith doing an equal job as props designer.
A superb cast can only take a show so far and this gay sitcom of a play is a perfect example. It tries to shock an educated audience but the controversy is long gone. See it for the superb acting abilities of the cast if for nothing else.
“Log Cabin” will be on stage at Convergence-Continuum’s Liminis Theatre, 2438 Scranton Road, in historic Tremont, Ohio through June 11th, 2022. For more information and tickets go to https://www.convergence-continuum.org/ or call (216) 687-0074.