In his book “Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity,” Andrew Solomon explores the concept of horizontal identity, which occurs when a child “has an inherent or acquired trait that is foreign to his or her parents and must therefore acquire identity from a peer group.”
Most of us gay kids fall into that category, and parents either do — or don’t — come around to acceptance of their different offspring after talking, studying, talking, worrying, and more talking.
“Our Son’s Wedding,” by Donna de Matteo, is a four-character comedy about the LoPresto family on the wedding day of son Michael (Charlie Owens) and Dr. David Schwartz (Pat Rooney). It’s a play that completely cracked up Friday night’s packed house, but it’s a play that also has some dramatic heft, and for both reasons, I found myself interested in the script.
‘Our Son’s Wedding’
WHERE: Curtain Call Theatre, 210 Old Loudon Rd., Latham
WHEN: Through May 11
HOW MUCH: $23
MORE INFO: 877-7529, or www.curtaincalltheatre.com
First of all, while the purpose for parents Angelo (Gary Maggio) and Mary (Pat Brady) to be in Boston at the Ritz Carlton Hotel is the marriage of their gay son, Act I really is an exploration of their 30-plus year marriage. In confronting Angelo’s uneasiness about his son’s sexuality and Mary’s fierce defense of Michael’s happiness, they unearth some old grudges. Though it’s not exactly “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” both Mary and Angelo sling it hard.
De Matteo errs, however, in two particular spots. The reference to an all-important Little League game when Michael was 7 is nearly ruined with a silly explanation about washing machine bubbles, and Michael’s preoccupation with purple accents at the wedding saddles Schwartz (and Rooney) with an odd Act II monologue justifying Schwartz’s choice of red accents. The playwright’s control of humor and pathos is elsewhere so sure that one wonders about these two distractions.
Under Dianne O’Neill-Filer’s direction the production is first-rate. She has helped her quartet of actors get the laughs and find the tender beats, and she uses every inch of Will Lowry’s handsome set. The technical work of Aaron Holbritter (props), John J. Quinan (stage management), Dan Winters (lighting), and Ann Warren (sound) is equally fine.
Rooney’s Schwartz negotiates his Act II scene with Angelo with an innocent aplomb: here’s a young man in love, eager to start life right with his husband and his husband’s family. Owens’ Michael is an amusing — well, Bridezilla — breathless in his condemnation of imagined wrongs while ready to take the matrimonial step with his main squeeze.
Maggio, with a kind of Archie Bunker rumpled disapproval of everything that is unfamiliar and uncomfortable, makes the arc of emotional growth completely credible. We know from the get-go that he will come around, but it’s fun to watch Maggio work between the lines. His gloating moment in Act II as he puts on his tux is priceless; his silence speaks volumes. And Brady, a veteran who’s making her CCT debut, is marvelously at ease on stage, working with a prop, a set piece, or another actor. Her Mary is a little scary at times in her — manipulation? — of a situation, but somehow most of Mary’s decisions seem to be made sincerely. Nice work — both funny and touching — between Maggio and Brady.
“Our Son’s Wedding” is a coming out story, but it’s not about Michael and David’s coming out — they’re long past that. It’s the parents’ journey.