Review: Martin Sherman’s Passing By at the Tristan Bates Theatre

James Cartright as Simon and Rik Makarem as Toby. Photo  Scott Rylander

James Cartwright as Simon and Rik Makarem as Toby. Photo Scott Rylander

Martin Sherman’s play Passing By was written close to thirty years ago and in many ways it shows. On the other hand, that might not be a bad thing. Set in the summer of 1972, it tells the story of a random meeting in New York, a brief encounter between Simon and Toby that lasts a few weeks and changes their lives. More passage into adulthood than sexual awakening, the play’s strength (and possibly its weakness) is it features a gay relationship while ignoring social attitudes towards homosexuality. Is that realistic for a story set in the early 70s? Does it matter? At times the story comes across as a fairy tale, but that’s the source of its poignancy: gay relationships need their own prince-meeting-prince mythology. Continue reading