Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays

by William, New York Guest Concierge

A surprising treat of romance and comedy, for those with a penchant for a real New York City theater experience, the staged reading of Standing on Ceremony is the show for you.  A collaboration of some of today’s most daring playwrights, Moisés Kaufman (The Laramie Project, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo) Neil LaBute (The Shape of Things, Fat Pig, Some Girls) Wendy MacLeod (The House of Yes) José Rivera (The Motorcycle Diaries, References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot, Boleros for the Disenchanted, On the Road) and Paul Rudnick (I Hate Hamlet, The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, I Shudder) , it tackled the ever-sensitive issue of gay marriage with a cynical and pointed sense of humor.  Each of the short plays were strung together in a thoughtful procession boasting stellar performances by some of today’s greatest up and coming actors (Mark Consuelos, Polly Draper, Harriet Harris, Richard Thomas, Craig Berko, and Beth Leavel.)  The cast charmed, delighted, surprised, and shared profoundly simple points sending the audience into a spiral of insightful reflection audibly noticed by fellow patrons of the performance.

The evening started off with “The Revision” which followed the conversation of 2 gay men revising the traditional wedding vows to fit their relationship.  The quirky back and forth brought into light the silliness of the outdated words many recite without thinking about what they are truly promising one another.

“This Flight Tonight” opens upon 2 females in an increasingly more common situation; waiting at the airport to catch a flight to a state where gay marriage is legal.  In this situation the Los Angeles native pokes fun at her partner’s home state of Iowa.  She rants on the differences between how she always imagined her wedding day, and her fears of what will be the reality of her marriage in “the cornfields of Iowa.”

Harriet Harris commands the stage in “The Gay Agenda,” where she plays an extremely conservative heterosexual white republican mother, pretending to be “liberal”,” accepting of different peoples”, and “a hip mommy”.  In this monologue, she totally loses her cool and warns us about “The Gay Agenda” intent on taking over the world.  She had the house roaring with laughter; my belly felt like I’d done 1,000 crunches!

They say there is humor in truth.  Nothing proves so more than “On Facebook,” which took a trail of Facebook conversations disputing gay marriage word for word, changing only the names of those involved.  What started as an innocent comment snowballed into a full on Facebook war!  Complete with “Smiley Face” and all the bold statements that are easy to make from behind the safety of your computer desk, it was a wildly funny and accurate portrayal of modern communication.

“Strange Fruit” drew an interesting comparison between heterosexual and homosexual marriage, showing that they are precisely the same.  Hearing the two men reminisce on their wedding day, the actors’ demeanors showed that, in sooth, all marriage is the same.

“London Mosquitoes” was a fantastic showcase for the seemingly endless range of Richard Thomas’s talents.  He portrayed a man giving the eulogy at his husband’s funeral; telling the story of the man whom he loved for over 40 years.  They had experienced so much together, and had done so during times of great social and political upheaval.  Richard always admired his husband’s unabashed and brazen personality, which often provides the source of his fondest memories.

Harriet Harris returns in “My Husband” as a crazed mother involved in a war of woe with her best friend whose son is “more gay” than her son.  She’s in a frenzy after finding out her friend’s son is getting married to a handsome and successful man, at the most prestigious venue in the country.  Unbeknownst to her son, Harriet puts an engagement announcement in the New York Times with a photoshopped picture showing her son and soon to be more handsome and more successful husband, and announces they are to be wed in the most prestigious venue in the world.  This hysterical and cute scene shows that the fierce competition of straight marriage translates into the gay community.

Gay or not, this play is easy to identify with.  It’s loaded with the purest of human experiences and characters that we all know, love, and for better or for worse, compose our lives.  The only time I wasn’t laughing is when I was smiling.  Standing on Ceremony honestly exhibited the repertoire of the homosexual reaction to the current and ever changing status of their plight for equal rights; anger, bliss, frustration, passiveness, cynicism, chagrin, loathing, hope, desire, and peace; all things uniquely and unequivocally human.

Standing on Ceremony is playing at the Minetta Lane Theater until 12/18/2011. Contact us at info@newyorkguest.com to arrange for tickets!

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