Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays

Once upon a time, it was considered risky for performers to play homosexual characters because people might think that they were homosexual. Once upon a time, homosexual characters were pathetic, tortured, and suicidal. Once upon a time, overtly lesbian- and gay-focused theatre barely existed. Once upon a time, lesbians and gay men didn't think much about marriage, because they were too busy fighting for the right to be who they were without risking their jobs, their homes, and, yes, their lives.

Harris, Leavel, Consuelos, Bierko,
Draper, and Thomas
(photo: Joan Marcus)

In altogether too many places, "once upon a time" is still today. In others, however, "once upon a time" is receding into the past. Standing on Ceremony, The Gay Marriage Plays, reflects--and contributes to--this progress.

A collection of sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking one acts, Standing on Ceremony includes pieces by Mo Gaffney, Jordan Harrison, Moisés Kaufman, Neil LaBute, Wendy MacLeod, Jose Rivera, Paul Rudnick, and Doug Wright. The plays range in tone from the hysterics of a wacko homophobe, written by Rudnick and perfectly portrayed by the amazing Harriet Harris, to a touching eulogy for a partner of 46 years, poignantly written by Kaufman and sensitively depicted by Richard Thomas. The one acts also present a groom-to-be who insists that his wedding vows reflect current laws exactly, a long-time lesbian couple dealing with last-minute pre-wedding jitters, a handful of people arguing about gay marriage on Facebook, and a couple whose wedding bliss is tragically short-lived.

The excellent cast, which also includes the charming Craig Bierko, the gorgeous Mark Consuelos, and the wonderful Beth Leavel, performs at music stands, paying more or less attention to their scripts in the manner of Love, Loss, and What I Wore

I hope Standing on Ceremony enjoys the same success as Love, Loss . . ., running indefinitely with changing casts. It's not a masterpiece, but it's frequently first-rate, and its very existence is a treat.

(press ticket, second row center)

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