Drama Club

Theater: Identity Crises, Jonathan Groff Take Center Stage in The Submission

JT LeRoy, Stephen Glass, James Frey, Jayson Blair: In this age of fast fame and fortune, it’s become increasingly common for new, exciting literary wunderkinds to blast onto the scene with real-life tales of sex, drugs, and crime, only to be quickly exposed as frauds.

Jeff Talbott’s The Submission, which opened off-Broadway Tuesday at the Lucille Lortel Theater, explores the creation of a similar literary deception–but this time set in the theatrical world.

Presented by the MCC Theater Company, The Submission sees out actor Jonathan Groff (Glee, Spring Awakening) playing Danny, a gay white playwright who has finally written a drama he’s been assured is full of potential. The only problem is that his play is about a poor black family in the projects. Danny believes that the only chance his play has of reaching a wider audience is if he changes the packaging a bit, so in true LeRoy-ian fashion he hires a young black actress (True Blood‘s Rutina Wesley) to portray Shaleeha G’ntamobi, Danny’s alter ego and ostensibly the play’s author.

Something less than hilarity ensues.

Talbott’s intention is to explore questions of authorship and identity, both sexual and racial. Why can’t a gay white man tell a story about a straight black woman? Does he succeed? So far, the reviews aren’t stellar: Ben Brantley wrote in the Times, “Despite (or perhaps partly because of) the consistent smoothness of the cast, they never become fully drawn individuals,” while Scott Brown’s review in New York magazine says that “conflict is no guarantee of drama, spotlit Actor Moments don’t add up to cogent playwriting, and radioactive words (even The Word) are no merit badge of bravery or honesty: For all their flash, they can’t, in an instant, rescue a story from its own contrivances or a character from the box his author’s put him in.”

While the critics might not be raving, the play did earn Talbott the inaugural Laurents-Hatcher Award earlier this year and is directed by Tony winner Walter Bobbie (School for Lies, Chicago). The cast, which also includes Eddie Kaye Thomas (American Pie) and Will Rogers (From Up Here), is full of promising young talents. And the play highlights issues that continue to make headlines.

We submit it might be worth checking out.


The Submission runs at the Lucille Lortel Theater through Oct 22.


Images via MCC Theater 

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  • Cam

    As long as we’re talking about the entertainment industry….

    Anybody notice this week on “Modern Family” There was a big emotional moment with the gay couple telling each other “I love You”….and “I love you too” and then of course they hug. And yet there was a small moment where his sister and her husband were in their back yard and the husband had just walked a little tight rope course he set up and they have a big kiss at the end of it.

    Once again, the more things change the more they stay the same. They have decided that the gay couple must be completely sexually neutered and although they had them have a brief peck under pressure nothing has changed.

  • Little Kiwi

    I hear that, Cam. It’s “Gay, but in a way that doesn’t remind Insecure Straights that Gay Men are Sexual Beings”

    there’s a time and place for that – it “eases” people into understanding. but it’s insulting to the rest of us who have to see ourselves, yes, NEUTERED in order to be accepted.

    that’s why it was such a relief to see Shortbus years ago – finally a film that didnt’ give a flying fuck if conservatives couldnt’ handle it. it wasn’t made for them. it was made for those who CAN handle it. incidentally, my mum fucking LOVED that flick.


  • MikeE


    That – a kiss – has absolutely nothing to do with “sexuality”.
    It has to do with the denial of the “reality” of gay love.

    By not allowing the gay couple to kiss, it is easier for insecure and bigoted heterosexuals to continue believing that gay relationships are “not equal”. That gay men don’t actually “love each other” the same way straights do.

    It has absolutely NOTHING to do with “sexuality”.

    When I kiss my husband and tell him I love him, it’s not to initiate a sexual act. It’s a demonstration of my love. (ok, SOMEtimes it’s to initiate sex.. but not always!)

    If kisses were “sexual” then you would need to arrest every person who ever kissed a child, for pedophilia.

  • brandon h

    Jonathon Groff=My perfect man.

  • Little Kiwi

    yup. and the thing is, MikeE, straight couples kissing is “normal and acceptable” – gay couples kissing reminds insecure straights that gay people are sexual. we don’t sexualize it, THEY do.

    just like the real “perverts” are the right-wing bigots who instantly think about incest, pedophilia and dog-fucking when someone says “gay marriage.”

    like, for real. Deb + Sue get married and the first thing someone says is “what next??? men marrying their dogs and daughters and then marrying they’re grand-dogger babypuppies?”

    Um…if your mind leaps right to that then you might be the perv ;-) lol.

  • Cam


    Modern Family reminds me of the company that got sued for racial discrimination and so they hire one black person and then a year later when somebody points out that they have 5000 employees and only one minority they say “Hey! We have one, that means we aren’t discriminatory!”

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