In Play Reviews

Adam Bock’s A Life is a play about Nate Martin (Nat DeWolf), a gay man of a certain age. Directed by Rose Riordan, the play was commissioned by Portland Center Stage, workshopped at the 2014 JAW festival in Portland, and is now onstage in the Ellyn Bye Studio at Portland Center Stage at the Armory. This is its West Coast premiere.

Fifty-four and lonely, Nate is, according to playwright Bock, just another gay man walking through life and trying to figure it out. He reflects on his romances, his mistakes, astrology, and his place in the universe. There’s nothing flashy about Nate. He has lived a very ordinary life, and we learn about parts of it–various relationships from then to now, Providence, and how Nate became involved with astrology–in excruciating detail.

Nat DeWolf and Gary Norman in A Life. Photo by Patrick Weishampel.

While billed as a wickedly funny play, the humor in A Life is slow to arrive, and when it does there’s not much of it. When Nate and his best friend Curtis (Gary Norman) sit on a park bench watching and discussing cute young guys who jog past, the audience is amused. But the scene is short, and the play plods on.

Rather than funny, A Life is a sad story told in exacting detail. For all his ruminations, Nate balks at doing things differently or taking suggestion.

Nat DeWolf as Nate in Adam Bock’s A Life at Portland Center Stage. Photo by Patrick Weishampel.

Actors Cycerli Ash and Dana Green fill several rolls as the play continues following Nate’s death. To a large degree, these scenes act as filler. Depressing filler. However, a glimpse of Nate’s sister, at least gives some insight into early life with his family of origin.

A Life continues its run at Portland Center Stage through October 28.




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  • Rebecca says:

    Thanks for your honesty.

  • Roger says:

    I did not appreciate the reveal. I’d like to be 52 and lonely. I’m 82 almost and vertical most of the time. I was not lonely when I was 52 and I’m not lonely now, I’m busy…. volunteer ushering or attending live theatre in my lifetime hometown. The best part of my life now involves my five year old grandson who with his laughing eyes gladdens my heart every time I visit him, when he comes running to me and we hug. He is the future and I am the past, I am also blessed.

    • Judy Nedry says:

      I apologize for the reveal. I debated with myself about reviewing the play, and I notice others may have abstained. Much was revealed with the poster, which was a toe with the tag on it. I appreciate your input. We all have so much to be grateful for.

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