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Text: World Copyright
Martin Foreman

Copyright of pictures acknowledged where possible







The Benefactor
produced Los Angeles, 1995

"[Martin Foreman] has been able to transcend the color barrier to attain universality by cogently depicting the joys, doubts, and pains existing in all human relationships"
Los Angeles Village View
another review

I have been lucky in that my books have received four to five good to excellent reviews for each one that's critical. But, with one exception, reviewers hated The Benefactor. I wasn't surprised. Thanks to problems with casting, rehearsal space and an inexperienced production team, the week the play opened - and the week most reviewers saw it - it was nowhere near ready.
The Benefactor
Village Voice came in the third week and saw a vastly improved production. Audiences loved it and numbers had begun to rise by the end of the run, but not by enough to keep it open.

The Benefactor tells an age-old story with a modern twist; three young men in a gay bar meet a stranger and unexpectedly find their deepest desires coming true, and in ways they do not expect. In turns humorous and thought-provoking, the two-act play covers a wide range of issues, including gay identity, racial identity and perceptions of love, in settings that range from a bar to a mountain-top and a gas station to a coffee-house. Derived from the story of the same name in A Sense of Loss, the action takes place in Anycity, USA while the original all-white cast gives way to a wide range of ethnicities.

This extract is from the second act, when Adrian complains to the Stranger that his (Adrian's) fantasy lover was too attentive...


Stranger
What's the problem?

Adrian
It's not what I want.

Stranger
But he loves you. He's totally devoted.

Adrian
It's too predictable. There's no challenge. No excitement. It's the same every day. Finding him at home every evening. Watching tv with him every night. Finding him at home every evening. Watching tv with him every night. Making love twice a week. He wants to build a nest, curl up inside it. I want more than that.

Stranger
Leave him.

Adrian
I cant - I couldn't. I loved him.

Stranger
Why?

Adrian
Because he was good-looking, fun to be with, intelligent...

Stranger
But it wasn't enough. You're beginning to understand.

Adrian
All I understand is that you are proving to me what I already know. That I want something out of my reach, something other people can get but I can't.

Stranger
Maybe it's out of your reach because you don't really want it.

Adrian
Where do you get off telling me what I want and don't want? How do you know? We've spent less than an hour together and you think you know me better than I do myself. What's your track record? Where's your lover? Or have you got nothing better to do than hang around bars trying to impress people with your party tricks?

Stranger (unruffled)
I only impress those who want to be impressed. And I am in love - have been for years.

Adrian
Whoever he is, he has my sympathy. Listen, what I want is very simple. To be able to tell someone I love him. To hear him say the same to me. And to know that it's true.

Stranger
What does it mean "I love you"?

Adrian
For heaven's sake...

Stranger
Take a sixteen year old girl and her boyfriend. They both say "I love you", but while's she's thinking of marriage and children the only thing on his mind is sex. A mother tells her baby she loves him when she means she'll protect and take care of him. A five year old loves his grandmother because she gives him sweets. A madman stalking a filmstar says he loves her. A gay man uses the same words with his lover. An actor receiving an Oscar loves his audience. A priest loves his god.

So many meaning for so many people. So many emotions in that one four-letter word. I want your body. I want your money. I'll die for you. I'll die without you. I won't let you live without me. I worship you. I need you. I hate you. So when you talk to me about love, what is the meaning of the word to you?

To order A Sense of Loss - the collection which includes the original short story, The Benefactor - click here (£5.50, including UK post & packing).

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