Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Mothers and Sons **
A new Terrence McNally play starring Tyne Daly -- what could possibly go wrong? Plenty, as it turns out. When the usually admirable Frederick Weller first opens his mouth, the mannered, almost falsetto voice that comes out resembles nothing found in nature. What was director Sheryl Kaller thinking to steer him in this strange direction? After a few seconds of this unnatural sound, it was clear that it was going to be a long 90 minutes. Remember the Emmy-winning 1990 television drama "Andre's Mother" starring Sada Thompson and Richard Thomas, about the confrontation between a woman who has lost her son to AIDS and the lover he left behind? McNally picks up these characters 20 years later when Katharine (Daly) unexpectedly visits the former lover Cal (Weller) to return Andre's diary, which neither of them has read. The years have not mellowed Katharine; if anything, she has only grown more bitter and filled with hate. Cal, on the other hand, has moved on; he now has a Central Park West apartment, a husband, Will (Bobby Steggert), 15 years his junior, and a 6-year-old son Bud (the too-cute-by-half Grayson Taylor). The play drifts from clumsy exposition to clever zingers to didactic speeches in no particular order. Daly does not get to display much range. Steggert is the only one who resembles an actual human being. Even set designer John Lee Beatty is off his stride -- the unattractive apartment does not look like one any gay couple would inhabit. The play's only interest is to document the dramatic changes that have taken place for gay Americans in the last 20 years. After three weeks of previews, the play still seems far from polished. A major disappointment.