By Easton Mills
Parker Goodreau’s THE THING THEY LOVE is available for streaming until April 30th, 2022. Get tickets Here.
Set in prohibition-era New York City, the world premiere of the THE THING THEY LOVE from Salem State University features a big, queer family with familiar yet complicated problems. They must navigate the difference between the world they love, and the world outside their doorstep by learning how to protect each other, sometimes from each other.
Having missed the in-person production of THE THING THEY LOVE, it was a unique opportunity to be able to watch the streamed performance. While there is no substitute for live theatre, and having performers in masks is an unfortunate necessity of our modern times, this show is a heartfelt and often devastating exploration of queer culture in 1920s New York City.
There is so much packed into this 90 minute production, many of which are themes rarely if ever examined in theatre. We witness a marriage of convenience, a romance between new gay lovers, bisexuals not knowing where they belong, sudden pregnancies and discussions of abortion, chosen family and polyamory, trasgender and non-binary individuals with parenting dilemmas, what it means to have a home outside of traditional family structures, and so much more.
This raw, initial staging is worth seeing in its digital form as many performances break through the added barriers with grace. The moments where the scene changes overlapped musical performances was also a useful, creative touch.
The play captures the raucous, fragile beauty of a portion of history often overlooked, giving voices to members of the LGBTQ+ community who often had to choose between living behind a mask or facing arrest.
I can only hope that THE THING THEY LOVE will be staged again, with a longer run, because emergent work like this offering new windows into queer culture is both prescient and necessary. But while we await that inevitable future, we are lucky enough to be able to stream it until the end of April.
So pour yourself a prohibition era cocktail and get your tickets here.
Easton Mills is a contemporary theatre critic fascinated by language, rhetoric, and weird puns nobody else notices. He is a dog dad to Marshall and an aspiring birder. Follow him on Twitter @EastonMWrites
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