Written by Rick Charles Mueller and directed by Alex Wei Xin, Forbidden explores the many facets of relationships, both personal and professional, sexual and platonic, as an older man with connections offers to set up an audition for a younger hopeful at the beginning of his career.
Charles Foxworth (producer/playwright Mueller) is attracted to Trevor (Darius A. Journigan), a young openly gay actor newly arrived to New York to pursue acting. All of 23 years old, Trevor is in the middle of ending a relationship with his boyfriend Washington (whom we never see). At this pivotal moment, he meets Charles, who makes no secret that he is attracted to him.
Journigan shows a quiet brilliance in his approach to Trevor. His character is in the throes of emotional turmoil, as he is still too green to navigate his personal life or acting career without adult guidance. Unfortunately, all of the adults in Trevor's life have their own agenda and he is on his own. Despite his youth, Trevor shows more integrity than Charles in approaching his career.
Thrown into the mix is Antonia (a magnetic Rew Starr), Charles' long-time best friend and whom he states that, sexual life aside, is his wife. Antonia is a complex character that any actress would like to take on: a former heart surgeon whose mental health demons have cost her career and relationship with her teenaged son. Starr does justice to Antonia, portraying her fluidly through her ups and downs as she grapples with emotional betrayal from all fronts.
Mueller shows humor and even some likability in Charles, who has created a very unlikable situation for all involved. He unironically compliments Trevor on his professionalism, even as he takes Trevor on a date as he himself unprofessionally pursues him.
Director Alex Wei Xin does a cameo as Peter Nester, the director of the play within the play, in a fun meta moment that got a laugh out of the audience with only two lines.
The set is well-done and ever changing, with an on-point stage crew. Both Antonia and Charles have well-appointed apartments and it took a lot of props to convey that; it was done with minimal time.
The sound and lighting by Marsh Shugart blends well into the show, especially as the characters are tech-savvy and constantly texting and receiving calls.
Forbidden ran at the 13th Street Repertory Theatre Company through August 17th.