BWW Reviews: Caught @ Zephyr Continues Successful Run
by David L. Ray
directed by Nick DeGruccio
through April 3
The issues of gay marriage and fidelity in marriage in general are explored with humor, intelligence, and a genuine optimism in David L. Ray's Caught, now extended at the Zephyr Theatre through April 3. Fans of Del Shores and Southern Baptist Sissies will see parallels. Growing up Southern Baptist and homosexual do not mix. In Ray's play it's the fundamentalist church that damns to hell any marriage which is not a foundation for family and family values. Putting religion aside, the more urgent message in Caught becomes the support system, the compassion that one should have for another. DeGruccio's expert pace and a top-notch ensemble keep the dramedy riveting and equally entertaining.
Getting back to the comparisons of Caught with Del Shores' plays about homosexuality, religion condemning the lifestyle is the main similarity. Much of Shores' work comes from the 70s and 80s where little hope existed for anyone who professed to be gay. Ray's Caught is definitely now, as the family caught up in the turmoil of accepting a member as gay and marrying someone of the same sex is tested also by the rockiness of a traditional heterosexual marriage. Wedding plans for Kenneth (Mackenzie Astin) and his lover Troy (Will Beinbrink) are interrupted by a surprise visit from Kenneth's sister Darlene (Deborah Puette) and her daughter Krystal (Amanda Kaschak). Darlene's husband J.P. (Richard Jenik) is a fundamentalist preacher who was caught by his wife in an act of adultery. Darlene seeks the comfort of family in her time of need, not realizing that her brother has a lover and that he is planning to wed. Ken and Troy's very existence is uprooted by the visit and when J.P. comes looking for his wife and daughter, all hell breaks loose. The presence of Ken's and Troy's queenish friend Splenda (Micah McCain) is a hindrance. Splenda is a recently self-ordained minister -via the internet and is making elaborate plans for his friends' ceremony. Even though his excessive behavior complicates matters initially, it serves to gradually soothe some of the rifts in the strained relationships. Lots of laughs ensue but the drama plays out first and foremost and is sustained by the finely focused script.
The cast is uniformly excellent. Astin makes Ken, although called a nervous Nellie by Troy, sincere and direct in his attempts to deal with his sister's pain as well as his own discomfort about her feelings for him. He brings warmth and intelligence and makes Ken totally likeable. Beinbrink does well with Troy which is perhaps one of the most difficult roles. He is sweet and supportive and maintains his cool. McCain hilariously supplies comic relief as Splenda, who is also a formidable adversary of J.P. Puette is superb as Darlene whose pain is further complicated when her brother's gayness tests her religious mantle and Kaschak makes Krystal completely loveable and caring, and so sharp for her age, a gay man's true soul mate. Jenik as J.P., the villain, the man that most will hate, brings great sensitivity to the role.
What makes Caught so thoroughly enjoyable as a sturdy theatrical piece is its sense of hope. There is hope for same sex marriage and for the success of any marriage. It all boils down to caring, really caring about others.
(Photo credit: Michael Lamont)