Dallas — The devil has been a popular character in literature and culture ever since he/she/it was invented in religious texts. Probably before that. Humans have made deals, wrestled and even fall in love with him/her/it.
For playwright/screenwriter/comic book writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, whose love of comics, fan fiction and pop culture has always informed his plays, a story about a romantic relationship with the devil feels like it’s paying homage to Joss Whedon. You know, where flirting with evil comes with pithy banter and smart-ass one-liners.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is even directly referenced in Aguirre-Sacasa’s 2003 play Say You Love Satan, receiving its area premiere in Uptown Players’ 2016 Dallas Pride Performing Arts Festival. Every major character in the Buffyverse had at least a fling, but often messy love, with some creature of the dark side. Not the devil himself, but demons of various levels of evil.
In Say You Love Satan, directed by Seth Johnson, Andrew (Trey West) is a seemingly level-headed gay man who forgets cutie-cute BFs and exes like Jerrod (Blake McNamara) and Chad (Jake Shanahan) when Jack (Seth Nelson)—one of those dudes who’s hot even when pouty-faced, and who knows Dostoevsky—puts the moves on in the laundry room.
Even after Jack admits he’s the son of Satan, what’s Andrew to do? Because ZOMG, he’s on fire. As in, brimstone.
Andrew’s BFF Bernadette (Katlin Moon-Jones) knows something’s off with Jack, and isn’t about to let her friend get Beelzebuzzed. Turns out, Jack is worse than that, and Bernadette and pals Scooby a plan to defeat this play’s Big Bad.
This is comedy about the partner from hell that we’ve all had—or been. But even as light satire, this production lacks any hint of danger or consequence. West is completely likable, Moon-Jones is feisty and Jeff Burleson winningly plays various roles, from a bouncer to a barista. But Nelson never gets past being a basic bad boy, and Johnson’s sprawled-out staging in Bryant Hall loses momentum.
If Andrew wants to avoid sexual encounters with beings of mythological proportions, perhaps his next Grindr ad could read “no fats, no seraphims.”