Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

Bright Colors and Bold Patterns
Studio Theatre
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

Jeff Hiller
Photo by C. Stanley Photography
How much an audience will enjoy Bright Colors and Bold Patterns depends on how much they can take being in the company of Gerry, the motivating force of Drew Droege's one-character play. He's a handful, a gay man from Los Angeles who came of age in the 1990s and isn't afraid to express his opinion on any subject—entertaining, yet exhausting.

Studio Theatre is hosting a visit of the Off-Broadway production of the play through July 28 as part of its first Showroom series, a summertime collection of limited-run performances in the second-floor Milton Theatre. Jeff Hiller, who succeeded the playwright in that run, is playing the role at Studio under the purposefully frenetic direction of Michael Urie.

The premise is that Gerry has driven to Palm Springs for the wedding of Josh, a friend, and Brennan, a younger man who is so boring that Gerry compares him to an ottoman. (And don't get him started on Brennan's family.) He arrives to discover that he's sharing a guest house with Duane, a former roommate and lover, and his new partner, 23-year-old architecture student Mac.

Hiller plays Gerry at maximum volume throughout the 80-minute performance: his hyperactive pacing around Dara Wishingrad's scenic design of rattan furniture and vivid accents like feather-trimmed hot pink lampshades; his flouncing walk; the way he whines as he tosses around cultural references that go right over Mac's head. "We're gay. We celebrate things while we make fun of them," he says.

Gerry's major gripe is that the wedding invitation asked guests not to wear "bright colors or bold patterns" and, since he arrived wearing a loud Hawaiian shirt and mauve shorts, he takes that as a personal insult. (Where does khaki fit on the rainbow, he asks rhetorically.) Much alcohol is consumed, much cocaine is snorted, and Gerry says a lot of things he should not have said before finally getting real.

Part of Droege's message—besides the fact that Gerry is treating his life like a piece of performance art and the people around him as props—includes the changes the character has seen in the gay experience over the decades. When, he wonders, did gay men decide they wanted to fit in rather than be fabulous? When did flamboyance stop being a goal in itself?

The audience becomes part of Gerry's world by sitting in curving rows of chairs or at small tables that surround the stage, with easy access to a bar in the back of the theater.

Studio Theatre
Produced in association with Zachary Laks
Bright Colors and Bold Patterns
July 9th-28th, 2019
In the Milton Theatre
By Drew Droege
Gerry: Jeff Hiller
Directed by Michael Urie
Studio Theatre, 1501 14th St. NW
Washington, DC
Ticket Information: 202-332-3300 or