BWW Reviews: QUESTIONS OF THE HEART From Theatre22 Examines Being Gay and Mormon
When Proposition 8 was being heavily campaigned for by the Mormon Church, Ben Abbott, a straight devout Mormon with a lot of gay friends due to his involvement with theater came across his own ethical quandary of how to reconcile the two worlds. But then he began to think about the Mormons out there who are also gay and how the beliefs of the church contradict their very selves. So he set out to find his own answers and what has evolved is "Questions of the Heart: Gay Mormons and the Search for Identity", a one man show where Abbott examines these two seemingly polar opposites in a sensitive and funny way.
What Abbott has done is to interview several gay Mormons spanning across the spectrum of devotion to the church and living as gay. He's met with people who are still in the church yet with their same sex partners, people who have left the church, people who deny their homosexual urges, closeted, not closeted and many more. And he has compiled these interviews into a patchwork of monologues where he delves into how these people have come to grips with their lives in a community that denies their lifestyles.
Now I'm sure many of you have your own feelings about this subject as Mormons or non-Mormons, gay or straight. I know I do. And sometimes those feelings make it difficult to see the other side of this very divisive issue. But with his show Abbott has created a very open and safe environment to discuss these things. Not just with the talkbacks he conducts after each show but with his open and humorous presentation. He never once tries to sway the audience's opinion but to merely shine a spotlight on a minority who has to deal with both sides of the argument on a daily basis and a desire to find some kind of answers on how to break down the walls between the two. Answers that Abbott, himself, admits to be struggling with.
Abbott admits that there are no easy solutions to this and that being gay in the Mormon Church results in having some very dark doors slammed in your face. He looks into this world of excommunication, rejection and often times suicide with a very open and willing mind. And yes, sometimes to a person with his own strong beliefs sometimes Abbott's ideals seem a little naïve or myopic, but the fact that he's even talking about it, and in such an honest and engaging way, makes it possible for anyone to walk away from this experience with something, even if that something is a stronger resolve in your own convictions.
Abbott is taking his show all over the West Coast and it's definitely an interesting look into a world many don't know and a wonderful jumping off point for continued conversations. And because of that I give "Questions of the Heart" a YAY with my three letter rating system. Again, you may not agree with him, but he makes it easy to at least listen.
"Questions of the Heart: Gay Mormons and the Search for Identity" from Theatre22 has only one more performance in Seattle on August 19th at 7:30PM at the Tyee Yacht Club. For tickets or information visit them online at www.theatre22.org.