Near the beginning of Log Cabin, four old LGBT friends are so struck by their sudden societal acceptance that one of them jokes “It’s here, the gay takeover we’ve been plotting all this time.” But, as we soon realize in Jordan Harrison’s thought-provoking new play, there are some downsides to their entry into the mainstream.
It is 2012. Ezra (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Chris (Phillip James Brannon) are an interracial gay couple about to get married; same-sex marriage had been legalized in New York the year before. They are visiting the comfortable home of their friends Pam (Cindy Cheung) and Jules (Dolly Wells), an already-married lesbian couple about to have a child.
“The world is changing too fast for people to understand,” Chris observes.
“The world isn’t changing fast enough,” Ezra retorts. “Who cares if they understand?”
Yet then conversation turns towards their fifth friend, Henry (Ian Harvie), and there is a marked absence of the empathy and understanding they expect for themselves. Henry is transgender.
More production photographs at NewYorkTheater.me
“He’s Henry now, fine, easy,” says Ezra, who used to call his childhood friend Helen, “but am I supposed to edit all my memories and do a search-and-replace?”
He resists seeing transgender rights in the same light as gay and lesbian rights, and resents being castigated for his view: “My whole life it’s “Smear the Queer” and getting slammed into lockers, and then I wake up and I’m Mr. Mainstream Privilege.”
Log Cabin unfolds largely as a series of dinner parties over five years, during which time we see how the characters struggle to be adults and adjust to the new norms – not just in their attitudes towards their transgender friend (and his attitudes towards them), but in their own relationships…as legal spouses, as parents. The issue of monogamy comes up in interesting ways. “What would Keith Haring think?” Ezra asks of all the changes, using the graffiti artist as a stand-in for “all those radical ‘80s art queers.”
His philosophical musings go down easy thanks to his wit, which is served well under the direction of Pam MacKinnon by a fine cast. It is no surprise that Jesse Tyler Ferguson lands Harrison’s jokes; he is portraying a character that at least on the surface recalls Mitchell Pritchett on Modern Family. It’s also enticing to see Ian Harvie, who is himself a transgender man, portray Henry – and also, in several clever scenes, Jules and Pam’s toddler.
Log Cabin is on stage at Playwrights Horizons (416 West 42 Street, between 9th and 10th Aves,New York, NY 10036) through July 15, 2018
Log Cabin, written by Jordan Harrison, directed by Pam MacKinnon. Scenic design by Allen Moyer, costume design by Jessica Pabst, lighting design by Russell H. Champa, sound design by Leah Gelpe.Featuring Phillip James Brannon as Chris, Cindy Cheung as Pam, Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Ezra, Ian Harvie as Henry, Talene Monahon as Myna, Dolly Wells as Jules