BWW Reviews: MOTHERS & SONS Is an Eloquent Elegy to AIDS Survivors

Terrance McNally's 2014 play MOTHERS & SONS, A Tony nominee for Best Play, touches a lot of subjects: what it means to be a family, the long road to recovery from loss, reconciliation and most of all, the great strides made by gay people in America over the last 20 years.

MOTHERS & SONS takes place 20 years after the events in his 1990 television play for PBS' American Playhouse - "Andre's Mother". "Andre's Mother" is about the Manhattan memorial service for Andre Gerard, who died of AIDS and was buried in Dallas several weeks earlier. It is an examination of his mother Katherine and her inability to come to terms with his death or share her grief with Cal, the young man's lover.

Twenty years on, Katherine's rage is still intact. MOTHERS & SONS begins with Katherine's visit to her son's partner, Cal, who is now married to Will, with whom he has adopted a son. The visit is an attempt to reconcile and, ultimately, a chance for Katherine to heal. The play is an eloquent elegy for all survivors of the holocaust that was the AIDS epidemic.

The play is both funny and touching in turns and reminds me of Albee at his best.

Michael Learned plays Katherine Gerard in a stunning turn. She is fierce, angry, hurt and hits every emotion squarely and believably. I give you fair warning that her expressions alone will break your heart. Her silences speak volumes. Anything you may have seen her do on TV doesn't begin to hint at her powers as a stage actress.

Martin Burke gives a powerful performance as Cal Porter. The bulk of the play is the interactions between Katherine and Cal and he shares stage with Ms. Learned beautifully.

Rounding out the cast is Nicholas Rodriguez as Will Ogden, Cal's husband and William May as Bud Ogden-Porter, their child. Both do a fine job as support to Learned and Burke.

Dave Steakley has done a terrific job directing here as the piece is beautifully staged and paced. The lighting design of Jason Amato is exceptional and effectively captures the change of the light of day as the piece progresses. Also worth note is the striking set design of Michelle Ney which surprises in a beautiful way that I do not wish to spoil for the audience.

Please do yourself the favor of seeing MOTHERS & SONS. It is a beautiful, thought provoking evening of theatre that you will be discussing long after you have seen it.

Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission

MOTHERS & SONS, produced by Zach Theatre playing in The Topher Theatre (202 South Lamar Blvd.) June 7 - June 21, 2015. Wednesdays through Saturdays, 7:30 pm. Sundays at 2:30 PM. Tickets start at $25. Reservations: http://tickets.zachtheatre

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From This Author Frank Benge