Harvey Fierstein, Christopher Sears, and Gabriel Ebert. Photo by Joan Marcus
The reviews are in for Martin Sherman’s examination of the gay rights movement, seen through the eyes of the always remarkable Harvey Fierstein.
By Martin Sherman
Directed by Sean Mathias
Cast: Gabriel Ebert, Harvey Fierstein, Christopher Sears
Playing through May 21, 2017
Elisabeth Vincentelli – New York Times
The twist in the Public Theater’s production of Martin Sherman’s new play, “Gently Down the Stream,” is that Beau is portrayed by Harvey Fierstein. For a show about the transmission of gay culture, casting the creator and star of the landmark “Torch Song Trilogy,” the man who wrote the book for “La Cage Aux Folles,” means that your lead actor’s baggage (in the best sense of the term) becomes an integral part of the story.
Frank Rizzo – Variety
Can there be a romantic relationship between two gay men of different generations: one who grew up in the shadows, witnessing struggles, pain and hidden pleasures; the other growing up in the light, assuming gay liberation as a natural right? Martin Sherman’s tender, funny and unconventional romance, which begins in 2001 and spans 13 years, deals with seismic shifts in culture, attitudes and the differing expectations for happiness. In casting of gay icon Harvey Fierstein as Beau — who is himself a survivor of 20th century discrimination, battles and tragedies — the production takes on a special layer of veritas.
David Rooney – The Hollywood Reporter
The play aims to bestow on the gay men of today the benediction of the generations before them who suffered and fought, while reminding them that the social and political freedoms they might take for granted were in fact won with blood and tears. It’s an admirable intention, in a play rich in moments of pathos and humor — even if the historical context is inserted rather than integrated.
Tim Teeman – The Daily Beast
In some ways Beau’s apartment in Martin Sherman’s beautiful play, Gently Down The Stream, is lost in time—just like a lot of what we come to hear about his life, and the sweep of LGBT history Gently evokes.
Robert Hofler – The Wrap
These anecdotes don’t come easily. No, Beauregard refuses to reveal his tortured gay past at just the drop of a sash. Sherman has given him a prop boyfriend, Rufus (Gabriel Ebert), who’s much younger, interested in camp doings, and has to pry each anecdote out of the old man. Beauregard keeps putting up a fuss each time Rufus pressures him, and after a while you just want to scream out, “Oh, tell your damned stories and get this play going!”
Linda Winer – Newsday
The new play is less that sort of shocker than a sentimental and straightforward but enjoyable and — dare we say it? — useful overview of the radical changes in gay life from the mid-20th century to today.
Adam Feldman – TimeOut NY
Since Beau is played by the marvelous Fierstein, who emebellishes the rumbling squeak of his voice with an amusing Louisiana accent, the time we spend in his history is engaging—at least until Sherman places him, Forrest Gump–like, at the scene of a real-life 1970s tragedy. Will the younger audiences to whom this cultural-preservationist work seems tacitly oriented—much of it will be familiar to older ones—find it interesting? I’d like to imagine so. But the play, like Beau, is essentially passive. It doesn’t sink or swim; it bobs in currents of the past.
Matthew Murray – Talkin’ Broadway
It’s not a complex moral, nor is this is a complex play. But both are more than good enough to turn out a touching document of three lives at three very different thresholds, across the period of 2001 to 2014 when, one might think, few big new stories were being told. True, much of what Sherman touches on here concerns a subject that not everyone will have much knowledge of or interest in, that being gay history. But he, director Sean Mathias, and stars Harvey Fierstein and Gabriel Ebert ensure that, despite a few visible seams, it’s universal and moving nonetheless.
Dave Quinn – NBC New York
The audience, in turn, becomes trapped in Beau’s own anxieties about his future. And despite the play’s best intentions to have us root for Beau to get out of his own way and embrace the love around him, his inability to do so makes “Gently Down the Stream” a very monotonous journey.