Adam Bock’s A Life is a play about Nate Martin (Nat DeWolf), a gay man of a certain age. Directed by Rose Riordan, the play was commissioned by Portland Center Stage, workshopped at the 2014 JAW festival in Portland, and is now onstage in the Ellyn Bye Studio at Portland Center Stage at the Armory. This is its West Coast premiere.
Fifty-four and lonely, Nate is, according to playwright Bock, just another gay man walking through life and trying to figure it out. He reflects on his romances, his mistakes, astrology, and his place in the universe. There’s nothing flashy about Nate. He has lived a very ordinary life, and we learn about parts of it–various relationships from then to now, Providence, and how Nate became involved with astrology–in excruciating detail.
While billed as a wickedly funny play, the humor in A Life is slow to arrive, and when it does there’s not much of it. When Nate and his best friend Curtis (Gary Norman) sit on a park bench watching and discussing cute young guys who jog past, the audience is amused. But the scene is short, and the play plods on.
Rather than funny, A Life is a sad story told in exacting detail. For all his ruminations, Nate balks at doing things differently or taking suggestion.
Actors Cycerli Ash and Dana Green fill several rolls as the play continues following Nate’s death. To a large degree, these scenes act as filler. Depressing filler. However, a glimpse of Nate’s sister, at least gives some insight into early life with his family of origin.
A Life continues its run at Portland Center Stage through October 28.