Off-Broadway’s “Nothing But Trash” a Real Treasure

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Rory Max Caplan (left) and Andy Halliday in Nothing But Trash
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One of the clichés of gay works of theater is that they often have to be considered “edgy” in order to be significant. Even though we’re at last past the point where gay plays must end tragically, the idea that gay works must still be in some way provocative or boundary-pushing persists. That’s one of the reasons why Nothing But Trash, now playing at Theater for the New City until March 23th, is such a pleasure to behold: it goes in the other direction, and does so exquisitely.

In a move from the Charles Busch playbook, Trash lovingly eviscerates the gee-whiz films of the 1950’s by mimicking the very specific cadence of the dialogue (and musical cues) while casting gay boys and drag queens as its main players. Even the straight boys are pretty much gay.

Speaking of boys, the cast is largely comprised of incredibly good looking (and ridiculously muscular) young men. Leads Rory Max Kaplan and Tim McGarrigal, as Troy and Tab respectively, are flawless in their characterizations of the goody-two-shoes teens who find they’re attracted to one another. Their first bit of physical groping begins comically but ends with true passion, and that one moment of non-camp serves well to keep the audience invested in their relationship for the entire show.

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Tim McGarrigal (left) and Rory Max Caplan

They’re backed up by a quartet of players: David Errigo, Jr., Steven Wenslawski, Tim Burke, and Andrew Glaszek, who TheBacklot.com readers will no doubt recognize from his role as Jay on Hustling. Andrew’s also made several appearances on our Hottest Guys of New York Theater list, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s joined this year by some of his Trash cast mates. All four men bring goofy camp to their preppy roles in Act One before doing an about-face and nailing the not-really-that-intimidating bad boys in juvenile hall for Act Two.

The world of the play is populated by ridiculous characters (who are really more caricatures), including a sinister one-eyed gardener (Jeffrey Vause), the so-straightlaced-it-hurts dad Richard (John Kevin Jones), and the fabulous Lana Turner-riffing mother Beatrice, played with hilarious pearl-clutching, hand-wringing cheese by the playwright, Andy Halliday.

There’s no weak link in the cast, and not a line gets tossed away thanks to Halliday’s tight script and G. R. Johnson’s smooth direction. And just when you think they’ve run out of tropes to send up, the boys in act two bust out of prison by way of a Westside Story-inspired dance break. If you’re looking for a fun, silly night of theater where you can laugh and get an eyeful of beautiful bare-chested men, Nothing But Trash comes highly recommended.

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Nothing But Trash is playing at the Theater for the New City through March 23th. Go to www.theaterforthenewcity.net for more information.

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