As the Republican Party tries to redefine itself in light of recent defeats, bans against gay marriage are beginning to look like less and less of an issue. With some states already legalizing gay marriage, an optimist can look to a point in the future when the Republicans' whole "defense of marriage" rhetoric will seem as universally absurd as it already does to a substantial segment of the population. In this respect, it's difficult to tell how the future will treat playwright Paul Rudnick's comedy of manners, Regrets Only, since a gay marriage ban figures quite prominently in this pithy 2006 comedy. A local production of Regrets Only opens May 14 with RSVP Productions at the Milwaukee Gay Arts Center.
Mark Hagen (a promising young actor who starred in Spiral Theatre's Torch Song Trilogy earlier this year) plays legendary New York fashion designer Hank Hadley, whose life partner passed away a few months ago. Hank finds himself taking an active interest in contemporary politics as Jack McCullough (a big-shot lawyer friend of his played by Jack Haar) agrees to work with President Bush on a constitutional ban against gay marriage. With this very serious issue at its heart, the play engages in the kind of wit Rudnick (Jeffrey, I Hate Hamlet) is known for. One of the more prominent comic characters is Hadley's maid, Myra (Sally Marks), who goes through the play adopting a series of different accents for no defined reason.
The Gay Arts Center may not have the kind of space required to make for a convincing posh apartment on Manhattan's Upper East Side, but the costuming should go a long way toward creating the right setting and atmosphere. The wardrobe of the play's wealthy Manhattanites will be provided by a prominent fashion boutique on North Water Street.
RSVP's production of Regrets Only runs May 14-30 at the Milwaukee Gay Arts Center.