Review: Utah Rep’s ‘Straight’ travels winding path to resolution

Dallon D Thorup, John Valdez, and Andrea Peterson star in Utah Rep's "Straight." Photo: JayC Stoddard

SALT LAKE CITY, March 16, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — Nature or nurture. Convention or controversy. Gay or straight.

In Utah Repertory Theatre’s “Straight,” Ben (actor John Valdez) is trying to sort it all out.

Ben, 26, is a football-loving, beer-drinking, investment banker guy in Boston. He has a history and strong, affectionate bond with his loving college girlfriend Emily (Andrea Peterson), 27, a graduate student in biogenetics.

But Ben is also drawn to Chris (Dallon D. Thorup), a stranger he contacts online: a randy, boozy, 20-year-old gay man with whom he has far less in common.

How much of sexuality is nature and how much is nurture, destiny or choice? And given a broad and complex range of personal desires and societal pressures, which path should Ben choose?

“Straight” — written by¬†Scott Elmegreen and Drew Fornarola, and directed by J.C. Carter —¬†explores the angles with smart and clever dialogue, limited action, and a few really funny nail-biting moments.

Peterson is wonderful as the long-suffering girlfriend, who is watching all her friends get married, and is willing to make some compromises for the relationship she hopes will be the next big step in her grownup personal life.

Valdez is effective and believable as the frustrating Ben, who is sure he can come to the best answer with enough time, self-examination and logic.

And Thorup is endearing as the flip and funny Chris, who arrives looking for a good time and free beer, but ends up dreaming of more.

The show will leave you with a lot to think about.

“Straight” has adult content, language and themes, and is intended for mature audiences only.

It plays in its regional premiere at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, through March 25, in the Black Box Theater, Sorenson Unity Center, 1383 S. 900 West, Salt Lake City. The show runs about 90 minutes, with no intermission. For tickets or more information, click here.

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