In a small empty theatre of the sort that would be familiar to dedicated Los Angeles theatre-goers, writer/actor Tom DeTrinis fires up a solo performance of extraordinary power and range. The breathless press release calls Making Friends “gaytastic,” which it certainly is. From first moment to last, Tom DeTrinis is balls-to-the-wall out there, as he lays bare his life and experiences as a gay man from childhood to the present moment. The stories are fantastic, ribald, and touching, and so extreme are the many outré characters he impersonates that there is no telling what might be fact or fiction.
Tom starts in high gear as a desperate, eager-to-please guy at a biz cocktail party, shifting attitudes to suck up to the others he encounters. And he hates them all. Throughout the performance, his sexuality and its proclivities are on display, raw and vivid. His turns as a coming-of-age youth are heartbreaking, which he covers up with invectives. The huge Long Island family that he confesses to love, ignores his gayness while accepting him with total misunderstanding.
Mr. DeTrinis is a vocal chameleon who creates hilarious outré characters such as the whiny lover who drives him to distraction as he yearns to go back to Manhattan, or the hilariously sleazy landlord who rents him a cockroach infested apartment in Korea Town. He even serves up a cockroach not long for this life.
This sensational performance, which, by the way, includes an unlooked for dance number of touching sweetness, might very well offend some people. I would hope that they could have the fortitude to see through the frank rawness, the lewdness, of the performance. I would hope that they could put aside their discomfort and see it through to the end. It’s worth it.
In this time of pandemic and political chaos, when we don’t have the joy of communal theatre in which we sit side-by-side with strangers, I rejoice in this opportunity to experience a real theatre performance in a real theatre setting even though it comes to me streaming on my big television screen.
Making Friends is directed by Drew Droege. The creative team for Making Friends includes Crazy Ex-Girlfriend choreographer Kathryn Burns, lighting designer Donny Jackson and stage manager Estey DeMerchant. Donna Simone Johnson and Melissa Stephens co-produce for IAMA Theatre Company.
IAMA Theatre’s production of Making Friends streams through January 11, 2021. For more information on ticketing, streaming and satellite events, go to http://www.iamatheatre.com.