Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but two dramatic comedies that depict middle-aged, gay, financially secure, white males in New York struggling to raise their children and keep their relationships intact just opened Off-Broadway: Peter Parnell’s “Dada Woof Papa Hot” at Lincoln Center Theater and Mark Gerrard’s “Steve” at the New Group.
In “Dada Woof Papa Hot” (which certainly has the more intriguing title), Alan (John Benjamin Hickey) and Rob (Patrick Breen) are a married couple with a young daughter. In “Steve,” Steven (Matt McGrath) and Stephen (Malcolm Gets) are longtime partners with a young son.
Both plays revolve around fears of infidelity, involve retreats to Fire Island and rely on contrasting the main characters with another gay couple. In “Steve,” that other couple happens to be played by Mario Cantone and Jerry Dixon, who are married in real life.
Although neither play is particularly compelling nor memorable in terms of its storytelling, they reflect the notion that in a culture of marriage equality, gay parents and spouses will face the same challenges and have the potential to make the same kinds of mistakes as their straight counterparts.
Parnell and Gerrard treat their characters with sympathy and give them relatively happy endings. Both productions have great ensemble casts and smooth direction.
Comparing them, “Dada Woof Papa Hot” offers deeper characterizations and a probing examination of the strains of parenthood, but “Steve” has more flash and humor, not to mention a cabaret-style preshow where the actors gather around a piano and sing classic show tunes.
If you go: “Dada Woof Papa Hot” plays through Jan. 3 at Lincoln Center, 150 W. 65th St., lct.org. “Steve” plays through Dec. 27 at Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 W. 42nd St., thenewgroup.org.