Review: THE TWILIGHT OF THE GOLDS at City Theatre Austin

A thoughtful piece for audiences to ponder

By: Feb. 21, 2024
Review: THE TWILIGHT OF THE GOLDS at City Theatre Austin
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Austin Theatre is currently providing us with some interesting and informative LGBTQ+ perspectives on which to marinate. City Theatre director Andy Burkovsky tackles Jonathan Tolins’s THE TWILIGHT OF THE GOLDS  while down the road at Ground Floor Theatre, director Lisa Scheps has taken on Jo and Jeremy Ivester’s ALWAYS A BOY. Both TWILIGHT OF THE GOLDS and ALWAYS A BOY explore themes of identity and acceptance, but GOLDS digs into the complexities of making moral decisions, while ALWAYS A BOY explores the affirmative experience of coming out trans.

TWILIGHT OF THE GOLDS explores the ethical implications of genetic testing and the complexities of family dynamics, focusing on the potential consequences of knowing and altering the genetic traits of unborn children. ALWAYS A BOY delves into the journey of gender identity and the challenges faced by individuals who transition from one gender to another. It explores themes of self-discovery, acceptance, and the societal pressures surrounding gender norms. TWILIGHT OF THE GOLDS explores the complexities of familial relationships and the struggle to reconcile personal values with societal norms. Both of these offer reflection on our notions of those in the LGBTQ+ community, and how we approach them.

In this review, we’re covering TWILIGHT OF THE GOLDS, a provocative drama that delves into themes of family, ethics, and the nature of love. The story revolves around the Gold family, whose lives are thrown into turmoil when Suzanne Gold (Lindsay M. Palinsky) discovers through genetic testing that her scientist husband Rob (Kirk Kelso) is able to conduct, that her unborn child has a high probability of being homosexual. As Suzanne grapples with the implications of this revelation, her opera loving gay brother David (Jim Lindsay) compares the family’s saga to the story of Wagner’s epic “Ring” cycle. (“Twilight of the Golds” and “Twilight of the Gods.”) Meanwhile, their parents, Phyllis and Walter Gold (Jan Phillips and Rick Felkins) must confront their own prejudices and fears as they navigate the complexities of acceptance and unconditional love. Against the backdrop of societal expectations and scientific advancements, TWILIGHT OF THE GOLDS explores the lengths to which individuals will go to protect their loved ones and the profound impact that one revelation can have on an entire family.

Review: THE TWILIGHT OF THE GOLDS at City Theatre Austin

Playwright Jonathan Tolins does a great job of providing us with an antagonist and a protagonist in Twilight of the Golds. As protagonist, Jim Lindsay provides a strong performance that captures David as a son who is unapologetically gay. However, he loves his not quite accepting family just enough to call them on their barriers to fully embracing both him, and the unborn child Suzanne is carrying. Lindsay M. Palinsky as Suzanne finds herself purely by circumstance and the miracle of science (fiction, thankfully) a conflicted antagonist under pressure to do the right thing. And that thing feels to the rest of the family like a profound moral dilemma for a host of reasons. Kirk Kelso as Suzanne’s husband Rob, and Jan Phillips and Rick Felkins as Phyllis and Walter, have their own character flaws that can at once seem antagonistic, too. Tolins, though, has written monologues that each of these characters share with us, guiding us more deeply into the motivations these people have for their behaviors. It doesn’t make the dilemma easier, but invites us to appreciate holding the tension of two opposing thoughts and the complications that come from huge decisions like this within a family.

Review: THE TWILIGHT OF THE GOLDS at City Theatre Austin

Tolins has written a long play by today’s standards, and has added a monologue for each character, as well. This is helpful to our understanding but slows the show down. In addition to some pacing issues the night I attended, this leans this show toward the drama side of it’s billing as a dramedy. TWILIGHT OF THE GOLDS was written in 1993, so it’s a period piece (Andy Berkovsky’s music, unbilled in the program, is perfect). As such, some of the references (or inferences) are dated, but the ethical dilemma posed is still quite sadly at issue.

Jim Lindsay as David is the just enough “extra” of a gay man for us to find him charming, funny, and believable. It’s important we find him likable, and we do. His relationship with Palinsky’s Suzanne plays as authentic and sympathetic. This is Palinsky’s first role in a straight play (non-Shakespeare, non-musical) according to her bio, and she embodies the role. Kirk Kelso plays Rob, Suzanne’s husband, as the outsider in this tight Jewish family, working to teasingly find his way in until it becomes evident that he must take a stand to be (appropriately) included. As David and Suzanne’s parents, Felkins and Phillips lend a befuddlement and gentleness to their roles as the parents of children they love but don’t understand.

Review: THE TWILIGHT OF THE GOLDS at City Theatre Austin

City Theatre Austin offers up this production at its new home at the Genesis Creative Collective, just west of its previous home on Airport Blvd. TWILIGHT OF THE GOLDS is a good start to their new season, which includes DANCING AT LUGHNASA, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, AND HOW THE OTHER HALF LOVES. Berkovsky, the cast, and crew of TWILIGHT OF THE GOLDS deserve our attention for their work of bringing us this thoughtful piece to light for us to ponder.

THE TWILIGHT OF THE GOLDS
By Jonathan Tolins
Directed by Andy Berkovsky
City Theatre Austin
at the Genesis Creative Collective
1507 Wilshire Boulevard
Austin TX

February 9 - 25, 2024

Thursday - Saturday 8 pm Sunday 3 pm




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