Flamboyant New York theatre director Ren is passionately in love with Jack, a younger man who is still under the thumb of his conservative CEO father, Malcolm. Jack's differences with his father range from the fact that Jack is still in the closet regarding his sexuality to having to endure his father's platitudes about self-improvement and his contempt for Ren. The fact that his father's oil company is dumping toxic waste into the Hudson River doesn't help since cleaning up the river is one of Jack's missions in life. Tensions mount when Jack becomes critically ill with lymphoma and has to undergo a bone marrow transplant which will either cure him or kill him.
At the same time that Ren is tending to Jack in the hospital, he is busy staging his version of "Gawain and the Green Knight." His struggles with Malcolm over Jack's love lead Ren to question the values of the medieval story--especially the blind loyalty of the young vassal to his lord--and he ends by inverting these feudal values in a wild cross-gendered sail against the currents of History. Behind this shift in dramaturgy is Ren's gradual realization that the battles that count for him as a modern (loving) man are fought by changing bedpans and bandages, not waving lances and swords. Life and theatre become intertwined as Ren increasingly lives his life as drama, enacting ever more baroque--and occasionally risky--fantasies of revenge and Love's Triumph.
Beyond the ambiguities of gender and sexual orientation, The Beheading Game finds that the issues of love and death, honesty and loyalty, are the same for all of us.