Review: Prejudice Unmasked
Mothers & Sons: Prejudice Unmasked
by Rasa Fournier
Mothers and Sons
by Terrance McNalley
directed by Joyce Maltby
through July 31st
Former HPU theater director Joyce Maltby is back, directing Mothers & Sons at TAG. The show opens on two people who look perfectly uncomfortable in each other’s presence. Kati Kuroda as Katharine is a mom who couldn’t come to terms with her son being gay. Long since his death from AIDS, that distance between the two still eats at her, until she finds herself compelled to pay an unannounced visit to her son’s former partner, Tim Dyke as Cal. Here they stand side-by-side, Katharine and Cal, about to pull some skeletons out of a closet.
Katharine has arrived at Cal’s door looking for closure, but she has all of her defenses raised. She is coldly polite and we come to learn that Cal is far more warm and welcoming than Katharine deserves, given the disdain she’s always directed at him and at her own son. Act one plays out as a condensed, issue-driven debate between a man and someone adverse to his gay lifestyle. This first half of the show has a dated feel, with points raised that verge on laughable. Yet, it only feels dated because Katharine is expressing sentiments that really were prevalent in the ’80s at the peak of society’s shock over AIDS, when diverse sexual preferences were coming to the fore on a global scale. The heated conversation reminds us that as a society, we have indeed made some progress from a time when ignorance and outright bigotry ruled mainstream attitudes, at least where homosexuality is concerned.
Then act two kicks in and the external, societal scope turns inward and personal. Engaging revelations crop up and the characters become that much more raw and sympathetic. As a deep wound can fester beneath a superficially healed surface, and will continue to do so until that inner infection is addressed, revisiting the past is the only way for these characters to move forward.
Kuroda veers between strong and vulnerable, heavy-handed and subtle, often expressing the most depth in her most restrained moments. With a simple eye movement, she conveys so much. It’s a pleasure to see Tim Dyke in this lead role as a kind and cultured man with an easy manner that makes him readily endearing. Eddie Murray adds flaunt and pizzazz to the mix as Cal’s husband Will. Kainoa Kelly, 9-year-old son of Star-Advertiser columnist Lee Cataluna, takes turns with 5-year-old actor Kaleb McMillian as Cal’s and Will’s son. These actors as a unit keep the dialogue-laden script consistently engrossing.
The production brings home that these aren’t “gay issues” being presented, but human issues. Through funny and tearful moments, the play holds a mirror to our souls. One moment the characters engagingly address the problem with labels: Is a gay pair best called boyfriends, lovers, partners? Or has the ability to marry settled the issue with the term “husband”? The next moment they’re speaking contemplative truths about the damage marginalization inflicts on a person’s self-worth.
“We all play parts,” says Cal. “Some play them so long and so well, they become the part.”
But he also points out that none of us come with a how-to manual, so as a human race, we’re all here navigating tough and confusing issues together. It’s easy to hate or fear that which is unknown or different, but what happens when you willfully knock on the door of the unknown, ready to accept or lock horns with whatever it is you might find on the other side?
In this case, it’s a loving gay couple who immerses themselves in the arts and are likeable as apple pie. With their bright, sweet, well-adjusted son, they make a picture-perfect family. In the lines of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner where Sidney Poitier must be an over-qualified gentleman to be worthy of a wealthy couple’s white daughter, what if this gay family weren’t so darned perfect? Is society ready to accept a flawed “other” or do we need the package wrapped as palatably as possible in order to open our minds and listen?
Note: Contains sexual themes and “four-letter” words.
“Mothers & Sons,” by Terrance McNally; directed by Joyce Maltby; set by Joyce Maltby and Andy Alvarado; costumes by Chris Valles; lighting by Thomas Tochiki. Running time: 1 hour 35 minutes.
With: Tim Dyke (Cal), Kati Kuroda (Katharine) and Eddie Murray (Will). The role of Bud Ogden-Porter is shared by Kainoa Kelly and Kaleb McMillian.
General Admission– $25
Seniors (62 & Over) – $20
Students & Military– $15
Thursdays – All seats $15
Groups of 10 or more $14 per person
Thu – Sat at 7:30pm, Sunday at 2:00pm
Order tickets online: www.taghawaii.net
or call 808-722-6941
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