Friday, August 17, 2007

Madonna And Child And Other Divas

For the most (and best) part, Tom Johnson's play (currently part of the Fringe Festival) earnestly concerns an evangelical Christian who fights against his homosexual temptations. We see him struggling over the course of his adult life: driven from a Baptist college in the mid-'50s under threat of being exposed as a sodomite, courting and marrying a young woman some years later who believes it is her mission from God to save him from his sinful desires, and most incredibly (because this is based on a true story) undergoing an exorcism to rid him of the "homosexual demon" after a gay affair is uncovered. Johnson mostly steers clear of satirizing these characters - much of the play paints a serious and realistic picture of a gay man facing prejudice and intolerance from well-meaning "love the sinner but hate the sin" people. Apart from the curious touch of having stacks of Bibles substitute for meals or telephones (we hardly need *that* to get the omnipresence of Scripture in this world) this much of the play is effective and memorable. What doesn't work so well is the framing device which runs through the play: one of its aims is to provide analogous, self-loathing action in current times, but it's too underdeveloped to make that point. Stand out performances from Joe Pindelski, Dan Via, and Kay Wilson.

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