Friday, May 28, 2010

Theater Review - Mother Tongue

By F.J. Harland
Directed by Margarett Perry
Gayfest 2010 - New Plays for Our Times, Abingdon Theater, NYC

I’ll be honest. As a straight woman, when I go to see a play that is targeted for gay audiences, I often feel a little nervous about it. Even in New York City where anything goes and often does, I can still feel that prickly sensation of “What am I doing here?”; and then I get the distinct feeling that all the other gay male audience members surrrounding me are wondering exactly the same thing. However, I enjoy Kevin Spirtas as an actor and try to catch his shows when he’s in New York. With Kevin’s last play, LOADED (performed at Theatre Row's Lion Theatre), my heterosexual qualms were not put to rest. With the attitude of the two characters often militantly opposed to any other gender or preference besides that of gay male, I was almost expecting an usher to drag me out of the theater just for having a pair of breasts.

Not so in the case of MOTHER TONGUE.

This dramedy was a delight, emotionally accessible for everyone of adult age. And the bonus? You still get to see Kevin Spirtas in the altogether. In fact, he was nude twice and for a much cheaper admission!

But seriously…although this play was part of the Gayfest Series, it was a more about dealing with the loss of a loved one more than anything else. Matt (Jake Paque), a young painter deals with the angst of two major influences in his life: his mother, the delightful Bertie (J.J Van Name) who has carved out for herself an entire stand-up comedy career out of bashing her unfaithful husband long after he had passed away, and his lover Cale (played by Kevin Spirtas), a sexy older man with haunted eyes ripped right out of the pages of Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca (“every gay man’s wet dream”) who is wrestling with his own grief over a lover who died tragically. A crazy rollercoaster ride veering from outrageous humor to bittersweet pathos, my attention never once wavered.

Playing in the June Havoc Theater as part of the Abingdon Theater complex, this play definitely supported the adage that “less is more”. The black box theater made the show much more intimate and therefore all that more emotionally powerful. I hope that this play continues to flourish with other venues.

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