Kenneth ( Corey Brill) is about to marry the love of his life, Troy ( Will Beinbrink). Now in the final week of preparation, their house is a flurry with talk of cake, tuxes and toenails. Family friend Splenda ( Micah McCain) has just been officially ordained over the Internet. A beautiful ceremony among close friends - sans families – is imminent.
Then comes the snag.
Darlene ( Deborah Puette), Ken’s deeply religious sister from his Bible-thumping hometown of Savannah, Georgia, is headed to California for an impromptu visit. And she is bringing her teenaged daughter Krystal ( Amanda Kaschak). With the wedding only days away, the poorly-timed visit effectively jiggers the one constant wedge between Ken and Troy: Ken has never told his family he was gay, much let that he was getting married.
Reluctantly, Troy gives Ken some latitude to break the news to Darlene in his own time, rounds up all of his risqué artwork and tucking it away in the garage. Upon their arrival, the show begins. Darlene is dramatically southern, a quality that makes Splenda nostalgic for North Carolina. Young Krystal seems to recognize from moment one that her Uncle Ken is gay, is living with Troy as a couple, and has no problem with it whatsoever. Krystal immediately, secretly bonds with Troy. She is instantly smitten by all things California.
After a day of mounting tension, the siblings finally square off. Ken confesses that the gay wedding Krystal wants to attend is his and Troy’s. Darlene admits that she is there because her husband, Reverend J.P. ( Richard Jenik) is cheating and she didn’t know where else to turn. Yes, the same Reverend JP whose favorite serum focuses on the sanctity of marriage and family. Alas, the same Reverend JP who has figured out where his wife and daughter have gone, and has decided to go after them. Who will win the war of wills is anyone’s guess.
Actually that’s not true. But let’s come back to that.
Caught is a very good production. To single out any one actor would be to undercut the elusive and phenomenal quality vital to any great ensemble piece: cast chemistry. This company of actors performs together with the greatest of ease. Every performance is skillfully calibrated and superbly acted. Every beat in this show, from side-splitting double entendre to deeply emotional confession, is born in the moment, again and again, with refined clarity and honesty. Well Done.
Adam Flemming’s set design is gorgeous. The living room space is both a highly functional performance space, and a cozy rustic love-nest of the 21st century couple.
The line between perpetuating a stereotype and embracing the stereotype is often indistinguishable in this play. I’m on the fence about this one. I’m not just referring to the gay; I’m mostly referring about the southern. However, for the most part, the characters that are meant to be credible are, and the characters meant to be incredible are.
Structure and plot are when the ripples lie in this production. Caught feels like two one-act plays featuring the same characters, because we do see cathartic moments from more than one character by the end of the Act One. But the real thorn for me is that the character transformations come about a bit too neatly, especially considering the play happens in the span of a week. At the beginning of the play, every character is deeply entrenched in his or her belief system. So it is hard to believe any of them would so completely concede those beliefs after just one confrontation. There are many battles in a conflict, yet Caught unfolds leaning towards the suggestion that the war, the struggle to change one’s own heart and mind, is won.
Ken and Troy and Darlene and J.P. could all be pushed much further than writer David L.Rey chooses to take them. The real test of change is implementing that attitude adjustment into everyday life, which these character appear to do seamlessly. I guess I wanted more formidable antagonists, and a sense that there is still work to be done. I guess I didn’t want a Disney ending. It was the only thing about the show that felt untrue. In terms of storytelling, Rey's play totally hits it's mark, but in terms of making a statement, it doesn't make resounding impact.
Ultimately, Caught is about the ideas of marriage and family more so than it is about the six characters. It is thought-provoking, and touching, and well worth the price of admission.
Caught is running now through February 13, 2011 at:
The Zephyr Theatre
7456 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90046
Friday and Saturday at 8pm
Sunday at 2pm
TICKET INFO: (800) 595-4849