Last night your intrepid HWTS theater reviewers, Janet Preus and John Olive, betook themselves to the spiffily spartan New Century Theatre to see Standing On Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays (a co-production between Frank Theatre and the Hennepin Theatre Trust, running through June 16).
Standing On Ceremony, short – but passionate – playlets written by 10 or so prominent American dramatists, is being produced around the country, the theater community’s response to the Defense Of Marriage Acts being passed with dreary metronomic regularity, in state after state. The pieces are solid, deeply felt, always entertaining. Will dyed-in-the-wool homophobics be swayed by the material? Probably not, but Standing On Ceremony effectively keeps this vital issue alive. It’s well worth seeing.
The Defense Of Marriage Act will be defeated here in Minnesota! We will – we must – vote it down on Nov 6. Please contact Minnesotans United For All Families. Give money, give time. And talk, talk to your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers. Let’s see if I can find a way off this soapbox. Ah.
Standing On Ceremony enjoys a solid rendering by a talented ensemble (Laura B. Adams, Shawn Hamilton, Aimee K. Bryant, Shanan Custer, Jim Lichtscheidl and Mark Rhein). Director Wendy Knox keeps the proceedings focused and fast-moving. Occasionally the performers did the plays script-in-hand; this was in no way distracting.
I will now turn the review over to Ms. Preus (currently boarding an aircraft and unable to post herself):
The Revision by Jordan Harrison
The writer’s lawyer partner begins by saying “I’m no writer,” and then proceeds to deconstruct and reconstruct their marriage vows to the point of absurdity. Good, light satire and a smooth way to warm up the audience for the evening.
This Flight’s Tonight by Wendy MacLeod
The idea of it was worth exploring but the treatment was lightweight. I didn’t find them believable as a couple.
My Husband by Paul Rudnick
As the Jewish mother Laura B. Adams’s acting style was too broad for my taste. Lichtscheidl was quite good. Funny in a 1950s sitcom way.
On Facebook by Doug Wright
Cleverly done and very entertaining. Wendy Knox did a fine job of managing all the little timing intricacies.
This Marriage Is Saved by Joe Keenan
A TV interviewer smilingly confronts fundamentalist preacher caught having sex (16 times!) with a male prostitute. Shawn Hamilton and Aimee Bryant as the keep-hubby-on-short-leash wife really made the sparks fly.
White Marriage by Jeffrey Hatcher
Interesting piece! We all probably know someone who we suspect has this kind of marriage – “marriage blanc” as the French call it. The beauty of it was that they loved each other and were happy. Nice to have this take on gay marriage included in the evening.
Strange Fruit by Neil LaBute
A man leaves his wife and children and finds happiness with another man, who is senselessly killed in a gay-bashing incident. His surviving spouse’s determination not to descend into bitterness is very moving.
The Gay Agenda by Paul Rudnick
Hilarious. Good old-fashioned dangling-over-the-edge satire. Shanan Custer was wonderful playing a “Focus on the Family” spokeswoman.
London Mosquitoes By Moisés Kaufman
A stunningly beautiful monologue about true and lasting love, delivered with great finesse by Mark Rhein.
Pablo And Andrew At The Altar Of Words by José Rivera
A real wedding ceremony, nicely played by Hamilton and Rhein. It ends the show beautifully.
Be advised: Standing on Ceremony is offering a $15 per ticket Student/Educator RUSH discount, cash only, limit 2 tickets per valid school ID, available for all performances one hour before the show. In addition, for those who see the show and want to return, the Trust is including a Buy One, Get One Free ticket coupon in the program so you can come back and bring a friend.