You’ve never met anyone like Jason. Actually, you probably have. He’s the obnoxious hot mess who shows up uninvited to his friend’s birthday party and proceeds to talk at breakneck speeds before causing a scene.
You might even be Jason.
He’s just one of several colorful characters you’ll meet in Happy Birthday Doug, a solo show written by and starring the inimitable Drew Droege, who kept audiences in stitches with his last project, Bright Colors and Bold Patterns.
Droege is once again commanding the Off-Broadway stage, this time at the SoHo Playhouse. The setting? A Los Angeles wine bar where Doug has gathered his friends to celebrate both his life and his new book. Harrison and Jackson, the dynamic duo who look exactly like each other, make an appearance. So does Devin, the salacious whore who has probably slept with everyone in the room. Christopher is also here. He’s the wise, old, southern queen who speaks about the importance of community (offering one of the show’s more touching moments). Several other faces-including the ghost of a famous literary figure and Doug’s ex-boyfriend- emerge, all of whom are portrayed by Droege.
His comedic timing and expressions are impeccable. Once again, he holds the mostly gay audience in the palm of his hands, underscoring outrageously funny bits with deep poignancy. Droege’s over the top antics may no doubt ruffle feathers of the over-sensitive crowd who will accuse him of stereotyping. Yet his unabashed observations of contemporary gay life—while hyperbolic—still capture a wide, truthful canvas of personalities. Besides, isn’t it about time we stop being so damn sensitive about everything, canceling everyone out, and remember to laugh at ourselves?
While Happy Birthday Doug claims no specific time period, Droege-a child of the eighties—sprinkles this gathering with hits from Chemise, Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam, Elton John, Kiki Dee, and others. With a running time of just over an hour, Droege—with deft direction by Tom DeTrinis-follows the old adage “always leave them wanting more.” As we learn from Jason, it’s best not to overstay the welcome.