There are times when theater is escapism. I don’t imagine that I’ll be casting spells any time soon like Frozen’s Elsa or escaping to Margaritaville with Jimmy Buffett. And then there are experiences like the current revival of Mart Crowley’s The Boys in the Band — an evening (and a commercial undertaking) with such visceral impact and cultural reference that, at one point, it literally knocks the wind out of its central character.
Crowley’s play, which portrays a group of gay men gathering for a birthday party at a stylish Upper East Side apartment in New York City, premiered in April 1968. Pre-Stonewall, pre-AIDS, pre-Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and pre-Obergefell v. Hodges… you might wonder what these nine men might have to talk about. Plenty.