Review: Hurricane Damage (Pride Films and Plays)

| August 5, 2018

Danne W. Taylor and Charles A. Berglund star in Hurrican Damage, Pride Arts            


Hurricane Damage

Written by Kevin Brofsky
Pride Arts Center, 4139 N. Broadway (map)
thru Aug 26  |  tix: $20-$30  |  more info
Check for half-price tickets   


Ingredients are here for poignant story, but rewrites needed


Jesse Montoya, Danne W. Taylor, Charles A. Berglund and Tom Chiola star in Hurrican Damage at Pride Arts

PAC Pride Fest i/a/w Pride Films and Plays presents
Hurricane Damage

Review by Lauren Emily Whalen

If nothing else, Hurricane Damage is an alternative to the Dead Gay Narrative. It’s a survivors’ story: longtime partners Oscar (Danne W. Taylor) and Dennis (Charles Berglund) have been together for decades, and have seen countless friends and exes succumb to AIDS. Now retired in Florida, with Oscar’s health on a sharp decline, they’re forced to question their past, present and future. Kevin Brofsky’s play has all the right ingredients, with a poignant story of gay men who lived through a crisis, but at a sharp Charles A. Berglund and Danne W. Taylor star in Hurrican Damage, Pride Artscost. Sadly, Brofsky’s writing is full of throat-clearing before it gets to the truth, and Paul Cook’s staid, slow-paced direction makes for a plodding world premiere.

Set in the aftermath of Hurricane Gilda on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Hurricane Damage has four characters: Oscar and Dennis, plus their dashing 30-year-old handyman, Ford (Jesse Montoya) and their old friend Norman (Tom Chiola), who arrives for an unexpected visit after the death of his mother. If you think either of these characters contribute to plot and character development, you’re dead wrong. Ford mainly exists to give blank looks when Oscar or Dennis make older cultural references such as “Meet Me in St. Louis” and Mary Martin. (And though Montoya is darling and charismatic, director Cook should have asked that he not shout every line of dialogue. The Broadway at Pride Arts Center isn’t that large of a space.) Norman, on the other hand, is first seen borderline-peeping on a shirtless Ford and then taking photos of him. At least Ford has been hired by Oscar and Dennis, but Norman’s excuse for being there is weak, and his character even more so.

Jesse Montoya, Tom Chiola, Charles A. Berglund and Danne W. Taylor star in Hurrican Damage, Pride ArtsTom Chiola, Charles A. Berglund and Danne W. Taylor star in Hurrican Damage, Pride Arts

For the entire first act, Oscar and Dennis muck about their summer home, most of which has escaped (you guessed it!) hurricane damage. Oscar wonders where his favorite cat has gone. Dennis harps on Oscar’s food choices – Oscar now has diabetes, after all. Both joke and gently flirt with Ford and compare themselves to “Grey Gardens”, which Ford has actually seen. (He’s a studly stand-in for the Beales’ neighbor boy, Jerry.) While certain moments – like Dennis’s impassioned defense of Judy Garland – ring true, the audience is left wondering when the real story will begin. An argument between Dennis and Oscar at the close of the first act (with Ford and Norman witnessing) could be a culmination of building tension and Dennis’s regrets from the past conflicting with his love for his very sick boyfriend. Neither Brofsky nor Cook bring out any of these dynamics and, as a result, the fight falls flat. By the time Oscar gives a rich and beautiful monologue about watching his friends die – “like a battle in slow motion” – my attention was all but lost.

Both Taylor and Berglund are strong actors, clearly relishing the opportunity to play these men at this stage in their lives. Plays about older gay men are few and far between, and it’s easy to see why Hurricane Damage was chosen as part of PAC Pride Fest. But unlike Broken Nose Theatre’s Kingdom earlier this year, which followed the challenges of an older black gay couple and their adopted son in a funny and thoughtful way, Hurricane Damage is largely dull. Representation matters and always will, but it’s not enough to put these characters onstage. A writer has to give them story, background, motivations for their actions in the here and now. Hurricane Damage expects us to wait for the inevitable storm, but the wait itself quickly becomes interminable.

Rating: ★★½

Hurricane Damage continues through August 26th at Pride Arts Center, , 4139 N. Broadway (map), with performances Wednesdays and Fridays at 7:30pm, Saturdays 3pm, Sundays 5pm.  Tickets are $20-$30, and are available by phone (866-811-4111) or online at (check for availability of half-price tickets). More information at time: 1 hour 45 minutes, includes an intermission. This production contains nudity)

Jesse Montoya and Tom Chiola star in Hurrican Damage, Pride Arts

Photos by Paul Goyette




Jesse Montoya (Ford Angel), Tom Chiola (Norman Norwood), Charles Berglund (Dennis Mason), Danne W. Taylor (Oscar Grenville)

behind the scenes

Paul Cook (director), Cody Von Ruden (costume design), Evan Frank (scenic design), Becs Bartle (lighting design), Isaac Mandel (sound design), Hillarie M. Shockley (properties design), Jack Cannon (assistant stage manager), Julia Heeren (stage manager), Paul Goyette (photos)

Danne W. Taylor and Charles A. Berglund star in Hurrican Damage, Pride Arts


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Category: Lauren Emily Whalen, New Work, Pride Films and Plays, Theatre Festival, World Premier

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