The Twentieth-Century Way OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Britannie Bond
  • NY TIMES

  • Opening Night:
    May 28, 2015
    Closing:
    July 19, 2015

    Theater: Rattlestick Theatre / 224 Waverly Place, New York, NY, 10014

    Synopsis: 

    Based on a little-known incident in LA history, this theatrical thrill ride explores the collision of reality and fantasy as two actors juggle various roles to entrap homosexuals for “social vagrancy” in the public restrooms of 1914 Long Beach. But are they actually entrapping each other? Who they are and what they need is a mystery that deepens with every twist and turn.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF The Twentieth-Century Way

    ‘The Twentieth-Century Way’ Explores a Moment in Gay History

    Alexis Soloski

    June 5, 2015: Some underemployed actors answer phones. Some babysit or bar-tend or teach English as a second language. And some entrap and arrest gay men on charges of “social vagrancy.” Tom Jacobson’s often absorbing “The Twentieth-Century Way,” directed by Michael Michetti at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, takes a Pirandellian approach to a forgotten bit of history. In 1914, the police department of Long Beach, Calif., hired two actors as “vice specialists.” Lurking in public restrooms and bathhouses, they enticed likely suspects into exposing their genitals, then arrested them. A hefty fine and jail time soon followed. At least one of the 31 men that they went after committed suicide. The police chief credited the pair with ridding the city of a “dangerous class which threatened the morals of the youth of the community.” Mr. Jacobson’s play, which arrives from Pasadena’s Theater @ Boston Court, does not begin in a station house or changing room. Instead it opens with two actors, Brown (Will Bradley) and Warren (Robert Mammana) waiting to audition for a part in a movie. To pass the time and to test their actorly prowess, Brown proposes that they improvise scenes based on the Long Beach vice raids.

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