Mothers and Sons
By Terence McNally
Directed by Michael J. Drury
Review by Annette Skaggs
Entire contents copyright © 2016 by Annette Skaggs. All rights reserved
Carol Williams, Shayne Brakefield, Keegan Connore, & David Galloway in Mothers and Sons. Photo courtesy of Pandora Productions.
Playwright Terrance McNally has written some of the best plays and musicals of the last few decades, including Love, Valour, Compassion! and Ragtime. Most of his works have a piece of his life as a member of the LBGTQ community tied within the story. His Mothers and Sons, derived from his 10-minute play Andre’s Mother, is firmly planted in themes that still haunt the community to this very day: the AIDS epidemic, equality, sorrow, acceptance, and happiness.
On a December evening, Katherine Garrard (Carol Williams) stands in the Manhattan apartment of her deceased son Andre’s former lover, Cal (Shayne Brakefield). She is on her way to Rome for the holidays and stops by to deliver something that belonged to Andre. As Katherine looks out the window, Cal does his best to be a proper host, but her stares and responses to his questions are colder than the weather. Eventually the two discuss their loss of Andre, while Cal shares memories and mementos that he had saved over the years. A phone rings and Cal’s husband Will (David Galloway) and son Bud (Keegan Conner) enters. What began, as a discussion between Katherine and Cal has become an experiment of tolerance and acceptance with the addition of Will and Bud.
As you might have guessed, Katherine has not accepted that her son was gay much less that he had a devoted partner in Cal and she is not afraid to say so in brutal honesty. She is firm in her mindset that he “became that way” when he left Texas and moved to New York. She stops short of blaming Cal for the death of Andre, who passed away from an AIDS related illness. Cal recognizes this potential blame and assures her that he was in fact Andre’s caretaker to the very end and that he is HIV free.
Will is anxious around Katherine’s prejudice but hides it well by conversing with volleys of comedy and perhaps hints of veiled contempt toward her. Conversations run the gamut of blame, sadness, fear, bigotry and even love. In such a short amount of time, so much is said between the four characters.
David Galloway’s Will was quick with his wit and provided a nice balance as an astute father as well as a frustrated, but understanding husband. Shayne Brakefield’s Cal was able to deflect the iciness that was set forth by Katherine and melt the rift between them with calm and specific truth, love, and compassion. Carol Williams’ Katherine is spot on. From the second hand fur coat that she wears in the beginning scene to her sitting on the couch sharing a snack with Bud, she was able to encapsulate the essence of Katherine, still angry and grieving the loss of her only child. Keegan Conner, who played Bud, was an absolute darling on stage and handled his role fabulously.
Everything from the set design (Karl Anderson), props (Ashley McKenzie) and costumes (Lindsay Chamberlin) gave us a feel of Central Park West. Also, thank you to sound designer Allie Ryan for your choice of Mozart’s Il re pastore.
We should be grateful to Pandora for bringing Mothers and Sons to the Louisville community and I applaud Michael Drury for sharing part of his owon emotional history with us as well. It is a brave show about the power of Resilience, Acceptance, Forgiveness and Love.
Mothers and Sons
November 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19 @ 7:30 pm
November 13 & 20 @ 5:30 pm
November 19 @ 2:00 pm
At The Henry Clay Theatre
604 South Third Street
Louisville, KY 40202
For tickets go to: Pandoraproductions.org
Annette Skaggs is heavily involved as an Arts Advocate here in Louisville. She is a freelance professional opera singer who has performed throughout Europe and in St. Louis, Cincinnati, Boulder, Little Rock, Peoria, Chicago, New York and of course Louisville. Aside from her singing career, she has been a production assistant for Kentucky Opera, New York City Opera, and Northwestern University. Her knowledge and expertise have developed over the course of 25+ years’ experience in the classical arts.