21 May 2016

Pillow Talk, by Peter Tolan

Peter Tolan’s Pillow Talk is a fun little comedy that explores the contours of sexuality and anxiety in modern US culture. The play spends one night with Aaron (Sean Marko) and Doug (Mack Kale Jr.) as they share a bed on the first night of their cross-country road trip. While both men are heterosexual, their exploration of anxieties about homosexuality, intimacy, and neuroses is laugh out loud funny.

Marko and Kale played really well off one another, performing like a seasoned comedy duo. Aaron gets increasingly frustrated with his neurotic friend Doug, as their attempts to sleep are continually broken up by Doug’s fears and worries about personal issues (like whether or not Aaron is mad at him), discomfort at sharing a bed with another man, and concern that he may never have had a homosexual experience—though he read that 85% of men have. For his part, Aaron tries to assuage Doug’s worries as quickly as possible, which ironically often leads to more neurotic worry on Doug’s part. However, by the end of the play, after Aaron’s grandma—in whose mobile home the men are staying—hears them fighting through the door and thinks they’re having sex, Aaron’s fears about his family thinking he’s gay come flooding to the surface, and Doug opens up and becomes the confident one.

The play itself is funny, but Marko and Kale really made the show work. Their facial expressions, timing, and inflection were all spot on. One of the best acted scenes was when Aaron tries to reassure Doug that nothing sexual is going to happen, and declares that he would not want to touch Doug. Kale perfectly played the injured party, quietly declaring that he’s just a bit hurt by Aaron’s last remark. Marko responds with a look of exasperated near defeat that had the audience roaring with laughter. The two actors played off one another really well to draw out the humor from Tolan’s dialogue.

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