'In Close Quarters' at the Orlando Fringe
If the only thing you know of longtime Fringe Festival favorite Michael Wanzie is his campy comedies and outrageous parody musicals, brace yourself for a shock – his In Close Quarters
is one of the most serious, searing dramas I've ever seen on the Silver Venue stage. Originally staged more than 20 years ago at Wanzie's very first Fringe, this two-hander tells the story of two Vietnam-era G.I.'s – and lovers – trapped together for weeks in an underground bunker. As sensitive Matthew (Zachary Lane) plays Florence Nightingale to macho James' (Harrison Flanders) wounds, the pair bond over marijuana and foot massages, which eventually morph into therapeutic handjobs while the enemy hovers overhead.
In Close Quarters: A Story of Love and War
Wanzie Presents / D Squared Productions - Orlando, FL
7 DATES THROUGH MAY 29, 2016
Length: 90 Min
Price: $11 (Disc: MIL | Veterans)
Rating: 13 & Up – Adult Themes and Language
Both of Wanzie's characters possess multiple layers that transcend any dated "queers in the military" clichés, and under director Chris Yakubchik the shifts from tenderness to violence are devastatingly effective. The two young stars pour themselves into their physically and psychologically punishing roles, investing the sometimes overwrought dialogue with emotional resonance, and making the comrades' conflict compelling despite some enunciation issues when things get heated. An extended wordless opening sequence (underscored by Rich Charron's ambient instrumentals) makes the 90-minute running time feel at least five minutes too long, and it's easy to see the climactic twist coming from the very first scene. But whether you are gay, straight or simply human, the final Pietà pose will have you wiping away tears.