The latest incarnation of Hollywood’s favorite cycle play debuted last night at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center. Standing on Ceremony: the Gay Marriage Plays, graces the stage of the Renberg Theatre Mondays this summer. Featuring the works of nine different playwrights and an ever-changing collective of extraordinary actors, that has travelled coast-to-coast lending an artistic hand to the cause of marriage equality in America.
The work of Jordan Harrison got the evening off to a great start with the concise and witty The Revision, a wry yet realistic juxtaposing of the actual language of traditional wedding vows and the 1,138 rights and recognitions that the sacred institution does not afford same sex couples. The piece smartly exemplifies how the difference between marriage and domestic partnership is not just a question of semantics.
This Flight Tonight is Wendy MacLeod’s take on big city girls and hometown weddings, á là LA lesbian couple. When it comes to cold feet, no “orientation” is spared.
On Facebook is an homage to the new millennium’s latest arena of social discourse. Doug Wright’s play is purported to be an actual “transcribe” from a Facebook IM string. The things people say, and think, in the pseudo-safety of anonymity is stunning.
White Marriage by Jeffery Hatcher investigates the inkling that eventually goads every open-minded, under-educated straight couple: “Could my husband / my son be gay?” Again, another truly intriguing exploration into behavior and perception.
Joe Keenan takes the power couple model of Jim and Tammy Faye, the sexual scandal humiliation of Ted Haggard and the self-important revisionist practices of Haley Barbour to bring us This Marriage Is Saved. Never has it been so much fun to watch a character NOT see what is so wrong about what they are saying.
Strange Fruit by Neil LaBute is a 2-voice, concurrent monologue, a story of the short history of a gay couple’s relationship from flirtatious genesis, to joyful, loving evolution, to its ironic and tragic ends. The bittersweet cruelty of chance.
Is that little voice of condescension coming from without or within? That is hilarious dilemma a well-intentioned housewife faces when she is overwhelmed by guilty and paranoia in the solo piece, Paul Rudnick’s The Gay Agenda.
Next, Moisés Kaufman’s moving monologue London Mosquitoes, has an aging man eulogizing his partner through the eyes of the world, through the lens of their relationship, through good times and bad, throughout their decades together.
José Rivera’s Pablo and Andrew at the Altar of Words, is a truly funny, interesting and sometimes strange episode of two men at the wedding altar, surrounded by dearly beloveds. The piece is a wonderful smash-up of non-sequitur, external monologue and overt verbal expression of love.
While enough cannot be said about the superior quality and breadth of the writing, the performers were equally terrific. Last night’s stage reading featured: Peri Gilpin (“Fraiser”), Julie Hagerty (Lost in America), Jay Harrington (“Better Off Ted”), Rachael Harris (Best in Show), Peter Paige (“Queer as Folk”) and John Rubinstein (21 Grams, “Crazy Like a Fox”). Armed with just “the page” and an empty stage, this small band of performers brought to life a phenomenal array of characters, transported us from sea to shining sea. The emotional ride taken in one night was pretty remarkable as well. Well done.
Great acting. Exceptionally crafted stories. And Cake! I can think of worse ways to spend a Monday night.
Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays will be Mondays @ 8 pm: May 9 (Press Opening); May 23, June 6; June 20; and June 27 @
Renberg Theatre @
L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s Village at Ed Gould Plaza
1125 N. McCadden Place
Los Angeles, CA 90038
(east of Highland, north of Santa Monica)
There is ample free street parking after 6 pm.
For reservations & info: 323-860-7300
Photo Credit: Chuck Green