Brian Pope’s Himbos dramedy played well to the enthusiastic and appreciative near-capacity audience.
By MAC Hoover
Himbos is a funny, fast-paced comedy that could mean a lot of things to a lot of different people, a “choose your own adventure” story. I’m unclear about which direction Pope intended Himbos to take; as presented last evening at the New Hazlett Theater, it is more a comedy than drama.
While I enjoyed the show, Himbos left me with many questions. Is this a relationship story? There were several to choose from, yet most of the characters needed further development. Was there supposed to be a locker room camaraderie? Was this a story about a strong female boss? Was this a story about a gay bar? Was Himbos channeling the Chippendales franchise or a gender-flipped Hooters? How does the concept of a baby shower fit in? The characters were ambiguous in their sexual orientation, except for Matteo. Was that a choice? I found Himbos to be a bit of a cohesive mess story-wise.
The audience seemed to love it, though. It was wonderful to feel the support from a community of diverse theatergoers. Shannon Knapp‘s direction was brisk, with Pope’s jokes rapid and pointed.
The bartender, Matteo, was a true diva and queen, as portrayed by Victor Aponte, who would have been perfect as Angel in Rent. I’m not sure what his role as the “flamboyant bartender” was supposed to convey, but he stood out from the rest of the players.
Tyler Ray Kendrick is a comedian by trade, but I didn’t find his portrayal of Ari, the waiter, particularly funny, or was it written that way? He broke the house rule, “Himbod Don’t F!@#$%& Customers,” but was that rule important?
Single Dad Kyle’s (Jose Perez IV) character could use more details. Did he have custody of his daughter Penny? Who is the never-seen baby mama? His buffoonery did not generate much sympathy.
Sean’s (Zacharia Washington) and Beau’s (Dylan Meyers) developing romance needed more seasoning to satisfy fully.
Cheyenne (Gayle Pazerski), Himbos owner and concept originator, was she a girl boss or a den mother?
Pazerski’s cameo as a lesbian at a “chestaurant” to break up with her girlfriend could have worked better if played by a different actor or with a different costume look; the jacket change wasn’t enough to convey another character.
There was no sense of the passage of time in the storyline as the costumes stayed constant, with the only hint of time passage: Kyle’s baby was now six months old.
In Cheyenne’s opening dialogue with Sean, the new hire conveyed that Himbo’s concept was a fresh idea in the restaurant scene. Then she talked about another bigger Himbos, and then at the end, Himbos was sold; why?
Himbos is a sitcom in the guise of live theater. It is enjoyable but not necessarily stimulating or challenging theater. Writing what you know is important. Writing what you want to convey is very different and very difficult.
Kudos to New Hazlett Theaters Community Supported Art (CSA) for nurturing the work of emerging young playwrights. You can find out about future CSA productions here.
TICKETS AND DETAILS
Himbos has its final New Hazlett performance on Friday evening, October 27th. Tickets at: https://ci.ovationtix.com/36406/production/1164639?performanceId=11304350