Playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s D.C.-fu is mighty: He grew up in Bethesda, went to Georgetown, flacked for Shakespeare Theater, wrote arts pieces for City Paper, and had his stuff staged by Woolly, Rorschach and Source. Now a New Yorker, the 37-year-old returns to his hometown in September with plenty of Off-Broadway, television (Big Love), and Marvel comic book experience under his utility belt. (He’s written for the Sensational Spiderman and the Fantastic Four, and he’s currently writing a defiantly odd book called Marvel Divas, which is exactly what it sounds like.) Round House commissioned him to adapt The Picture of Dorian Gray, and although I haven’t seen the script, I’m reasonably confident of a couple things: 1) As in the Wilde novella, there’ll be plenty of talk about the nature of Art and Beauty; 2) Very unlike the Wilde novella, which sounds homoerotic themes but remains remarkably cagey on the precise nature of Gray’s “debauchery,” there’ll be Hot Man-on-Man Action. How do we know this? Well, the Round House folks are talking up the production’s “provocative contemporary spin” (it’s set in 1988) and cautioning their subscribers about adult situations/nudity. And Aguirre-Sacasa’s had lots of practice tackling gay themes in a variety of media (Marvel Divas, hello!). What’ll be interesting to see—no matter where you come down on the issue of dramaturgical manflesh—is how a more direct exploration of Dorian Gray’s gay subtext squares with Wilde’s slyly ambivalent critique of hedonism.
The play runs Sept. 9 to Oct. 4 at Round House Theatre Bethesda, 4545 East-West Highway, Bethesda. $25–$55. (240) 644-1100.