Starring Harvey Fierstein, Gabriel Ebert, and Christopher, "Gently Down the Stream" is a new off-Broadway production directed by Sean Mathias. Acclaimed playwright Martin Sherman’s newest masterpiece, the play charts the monumental changes that have swept gay life over the past half-century. Starring four-time Tony winner Harvey Fierstein (who recently performed in NBC's "Hairspray Live"), the play is currently playing at The Public Theater in Manhattan.

The plot

The play is set in 2001 at the time of the burgeoning internet dating revolution. Fierstein plays Beau, an American expat pianist living in London, who meets Rufus (played by Gabriel Ebert of Matilda fame).

Rufus, a young and eccentric lawyer, is enamored by Fierstein’s musical past and becomes immediately attached.

Despite Beau’s reservations regarding their age difference (Beau is 62 while Rufus is a mere 28), Beau succumbs to Rufus’s insistent charms. As Beau and Rufus’s romance blossoms, Beau becomes surprised that he is experiencing one of the most fulfilling relationships he’s experienced.

Two generations

While "Gently Down the Stream" is heavily concerned with intergenerational romance, the play is equally invested with the immense changes that have shaped gay life over the past fifty years.

Beau comes from a generation where gay romance was taboo, and in his moving soliloquys he describes an age where love seemed impossible and social acceptance was still a far off dream. Fierstein beautifully captures a character who has experienced some of the most turbulent and heartbreaking parts of recent history.

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We come to find that Beau has tragically lost two partners - one to arson and another to the AIDS epidemic. Beau fought and struggled in a world that did not welcome him yet he persisted.

Rufus, on the other hand, believes he deserves happiness as much as any other person. Unlike Beau, Rufus explores marriage and parenting. These possibilities have eluded Beau his entire life, and the play devotes time to Beau's consideration of and even refusal of these institutions.

All set within Beau’s eccentric London flat, "Gently Down the Stream" details the travails and accomplishments of LGBTQ people while telling a poignant story of a man who finds romance unexpectedly. Through Fierstein and Ebert’s thoughtful performances, the play captures the heartbreak and struggles of people in the past that have given our contemporaries new and hopeful ways of being and living in the world.