BWW Reviews: Arouet's THE TEMPERAMENTALS - Important History Told with Care
In these exciting times where state after state are ratifying same sex marriage laws and teens are taking their same sex boyfriends and girlfriends to school dances, we can sometimes lose sight of the people that fought to break down those barriers to get us where we are today. This is why stories such as the ones presented in the play "The Temperamentals" are so important. And the importance of this production and its stirring slice of history, currently being presented at the Ballard Underground, is not lost on the folks at Arouet as they tell the story with care and compassion.
Before the Stonewall riots, Pride Parades and "Will and Grace" there was The Mattachine Society, a group of homosexual men and women who wanted nothing but to make it safe to be recognized in public without fear of violence or prosecution. But beyond the founding of this groundbreaking group the play focuses on the relationship of two of its founding members, Harry Hay and Rudi Gernreich (Daniel Wood and Jaryl Allen Draper) as they as they work through dealing with old and new lovers, wives and families and lifestyle defining careers. And along this journey they are joined by fellow founding members Chuck Rowland, Bob Hull and Dale Jennings (Greg Bee, Will Halsey and Justin Ison) who each bring their own tribulations and trepidations to the group.
Director Roy Arauz has assembled a superb team of actors to tell this story and he and they obviously appreciate the significance of the subject. At times, the play by Jon Marans can feel a little preachy and get a little self indulgent and the production itself can use some settling in time but the message is never lost.
Wood and Draper are lovely together and display tons of chemistry. And Wood's character arc throughout the play is subtle but amazing. Halsey is complexly adorable as the affable Bob. Bee is equally likeable as the agreeable Chuck and his transformation into his multiple characters is outstanding. And Ison brings an understated honesty to his portrayal of the persecuted Dale.
There's really not much more to say about this show. From its sparse set to its wonderfully period costumes this is a solid production of a beautiful work. The Mattachine Society may not have been in the forefront as some other events in the history of the gay rights movement but that doesn't mean it's not as significant to how far it's come. And this play and production is an illuminating example of how far we've come when faced with the stark realities of where we were.
"The Temperamentals" from Arouet performs at the Ballard underground through May 25th. For more information or to purchase tickets visit them online at www.arouet.us/tix or by calling Brown Paper Tickets at 800-838-3006.
Photo credit: Michael Brunk, NW Lens