June 12, 2016. Today, for the first time ever in writing a review, I deleted everything I had already written, to start anew, in between bouts of crying. I am badly shaken by last night’s act of domestic terrorism in Orlando. Nobody should be killed for loving. Not for religious beliefs. Not for going against repressive bureaucratic edict. Not for skin color, nor cultural heritage. Certainly not for gender. It’s about love. LOVE. That’s a good thing, isn’t it?
As the lights come up on Terrence McNally’s evocative, poignant drama Mothers and Sons, presented by Uptown Players, we get to watch the fearful past, as embodied by Marjorie Hayes as mother, Katharine, run smack into the brick wall of the present, in the personas of husbands Cal (Gregory Lush) and Will (Kevin Moore). Katharine’s world shatters like glass shards, only to become reinvigorated by the ingenuous, openhearted future, as realized by Cal and Will’s young son Bud (Alex Prejean). Watching this play opening night felt like a blessing, a benediction of universal love, long overdue. What started with the passage of marriage equality in June 2015 shifted the paradigm in the Kalita Humphreys Theater with Mothers and Sons on June 3. It felt so vital, so hopeful. Uptown Players continues to present some of the most timely, enjoyable, professionally mounted theatre in the region. Mothers and Sons, as hard to watch as it is, with its portrayal of exquisitely written cross-generational suffering, carries its audience through the paradigm shift and out into the sunshine of tolerance and enlightenment.
Then last night descended with its horrifying slaughter and burst that sunny bubble with unimaginable hatred and savagery. In memory of those who fought for tolerance and died, for those taken out by AIDS, and in honor of those who went out on the town last night in their party duds to just enjoy themselves at an Orlando nightclub, please support Uptown Players and see this dignified, magnificent production. One foot in the past, one in the present, eyes firmly gazing into the future. Love is the answer. Nobody should die over whom they love. Nobody.
I had to go down to the Kalita today, just had to . I couldn’t stay away, but I knew I couldn’t handle seeing the play again. So I brought the cast a box of Hypnotic donuts, my quirky love offering. Here is some of what I shared with a member of the cast who wrote to thank me for the gift.
Are we not all, all, shaken to the core? No one should be killed for whom they love. For whom they love. I respect you so much for this amazing work of art you have created, for shifting the paradigm forward. It has to be a huge emotional ride every time you perform this work. But today, after last night, what it must have felt like to take the stage in the aftermath of a nightmare, with more death to come from survivors. Artists are such loving people. We can be petty and overly dramatic, but we want people to love each other. As straight people, we have watched the shame and prejudice dumped for YEARS on our gay brothers and lesbian sisters. Your play symbolizes moving forward, and last night is a testimonial to the hatred that still exists, a reminder that the monster for bigotry remains lethal and lurking. It comes to Dallas with Trump and his ideological adherents. Thanks for having the courage to perform this show. I honor all of you and respect you so much. Bless you. Love will prevail. So now back to rewriting what I’d started. Namaste. You are the BEST.
Critically speaking, in brief: The rambling Central Park penthouse-style apartment set is deliciously appointed, even as it crowds the cast into performing in an inflexible, declamatory, linear fashion. Still, they are all pros and overcome the challenges the set presents. Marjorie Hayes unfolds the pent up rage and helpless confusion of a woman who has lost all self-definition and finds herself adrift in a world with a new “normal” beyond her comprehension with consummate style and conviction. She carries the show proudly, confidently. Her Katharine emerges in natural flow, without any hint of soap opera torch waving. Kevin Moore and Gregory Lush create the new “normal” of the present grounded in an easy realism, without any trace of affectation or caricatured emphasis. Fine child actor Alex Prejean wins hearts on and off stage as the embodiment of the future, oblivious to, unburdened by mistakes of the past. Symbolic on one level, he’s also completely believable as a little kid living a normal life with two doting fathers. Theatre Three’s Bruce Coleman directs with a light, compassionate touch and economy, well earned by McNally’s erudite, sensitive script. It’s all CLASS. First class.
Mothers and Sons runs through June 19
If you love someone, please let him or her know. #WeAreOrlando