I had no idea what to expect, what with the rather quirky title, but About Face Theatre’s well-written, well-acted production of “Abraham Lincoln Was A F*gg*t” turned out to be a campy, coming-of-age comedy. “Abraham Lincoln Was A F*gg*t” made me laugh out loud! I give it 3 ½ Spotlights.
In the course of researching for a history paper about his favorite president, Abraham Lincoln, Cal (Matt Farabee) found enough hints – but no proof – to conclude that Lincoln was gay. As Cal reads more about Lincoln, the action frequently jumps back in time to highlight things Cal thinks might prove his theory.
One day in school, Cal meets Skylar (Lane Flores) who is running for Student President on a gay platform. He offers to help Skylar come up with a good slogan. As they bond over Michael Jackson’s music, Cal admits he’s gay. As he learns more about Lincoln, he shares his findings with Skylar.
Cal’s mother, Susan (Jessie Fisher) refuses to discuss his sexuality with him. His Uncle Geoff (Nathan Hosner) is gay, but unavailable. Geoff’s partner, Buck (Derrick Trumbly), is unhappy that he hasn’t met Geoff’s sister or nephew.
Meanwhile, in Springfield, Lincoln (Hosner) is living with a friend, Shua (Trumbly). Because the two men shared a bed, Cal is convinced they were gay. They stayed together until Lincoln decided to marry Mary Todd (Fisher). When they moved to the White House, Mary frequently left on shopping trips to New York. Lincoln frequently stayed in a cottage on the grounds of the Soldier’s Home with his bodyguard, an officer named Derickson.
On the basis of his outline, Cal’s paper is chosen to be presented in front of students from across the state. Cal, Skylar and Susan visit most of the Lincoln landmarks on his list.
About Face Theatre’s production of “Abraham Lincoln Was A F*gg*t” runs through July 5th at the Greenhouse Theater Center (Upstairs Studio), 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. Performances are Thursday and Friday at 7:30 pm; Saturday at 3:00 and 7:30; Sunday at 3:00. Running time is 2 hours, 25 minutes with an intermission. Tickets are $35. Street parking is hard to find in Lincoln Park, but there is free parking in the Lincoln Garage (formerly the Children’s Memorial garage), although it fills up fast. FYI (773) 404-7336 or www.aboutfacetheatre.org.