At the Flash at Pride Films & Plays | Theater review
David Leeper skillfully portrays five gay archetypes in this abridged take on modern LGBT history.
There isn’t much to Sean Chandler and performer David Leeper’s one-man, five-decade LGBT history capsule you can’t glean from the play’s poster showing Leeper in five poses. Centering on an any-town gay bar through the ages, the characters—a married Stonewall-era closet case; a Southern black drag mother showing a new queen the ropes; a carefree, sex-positive ’80s barfly coming to terms with sober reality; a ’90s activist lesbian; and a modern-day businessman looking to de-ghettoize his community—tell their stories and broadly characterize their respective decades.
Once each mouthpiece’s intentions are solidified, the monologues seem to write themselves, but the charismatic Leeper performs them with enough wit and good nature to make less relevant the fact they don’t illuminate anything new. On opening night, surely everyone packed in Lakeview’s Center on Halsted was familiar with the new work’s factoids and director David Zak’s archetypes, who all proudly preach to the choir. But theater isn’t what runs At the Flash; advocacy is. And with only nine states currently recognizing same-sex marriage and a major political party hellbent on keeping it that way, maybe a little gospel isn’t such a bad thing.