In my review of ANNAPURNA last week, I talked about delaying my response in order to fully form an opinion. In the case of MOTHERS AND SONS I waited, hoping that I might soften on my passionate response to the production. I haven’t.
MOTHERS AND SONS is the follow up to Terrence McNally’s “Andre’s Mother” piece. Andre is dead and his mother has come to visit his former partner, Cal. She meets the new partner, Will, and their son, Bud. The script is taut with drama; a dance of decorum and etiquette masking years of resentments and unspoken anger.
This is a very good play, full of relationship intrigue and the kind of patter and dialogue McNally is known for. But more than that it’s an important one. Perhaps that is why I left opening night so disappointed in how it came together. I felt as if all of the adult actors were each on their own stage. There was no real chemistry between them and none of them are strong enough actors to carry the show without bonded interactions.
There was no variance in the emotion of the show – whether trading sarcastic, passive-aggressive barbs or downright confrontational vile the tone stayed the same. Cal says some really horrible things to Katherine; her disdain and intolerance is more refined. But there was no crescendo, no climax, and I was bored (and frankly angry about it). Apart from Ben Cherry who plays the new partner, “Will,” I constantly felt as if I was watching people act rather than watching people live their lives.
Director Timothy Douglas’s THE NORTH POOL still stands as one my favorite plays I’ve ever seen. The relationship in that piece was just as tense, albeit less personal. I thought BUZZER was delicious and gave me heart palpitations the drama was so thrilling. However, I must admit that I absolutely loathed SAFE HOUSE also directed by Douglas. I’ve definitely never left a show he’s directed without a strong opinion.
I admire him the Playhouse for tackling heavy themes and important works. This one just didn’t click for me. That said, my friend David Lyman has a very different take on things. Please read his review and then go buy a ticket and form your own opinion. No matter which side you land on – or a completely different one altogether – MOTHERS AND SONS is a timely, relevant, and important play that will generate a strong response in you.
MOTHERS AND SONS plays through April 17th at the Playhouse in the Park. Click here for more information.