McNally’s Definitive Voice Makes “Mothers And Sons” Work At Rep Studio

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Darrie Lawrence as Katharine goes over some old photos from Cal (Harry Bouvy) in “Mothers And Sons” at the Studio of The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. Photo: Peter Wochniak

Terrence McNally’s plays are always relevant and in “Mothers And Sons” at the Studio Theatre of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, he covers a lot of old ground with a few lessons for today’s audiences. AIDS doesn’t carry the impact it once did but the lingering effects of the dreaded disease still affects a generation who lived through some pretty rough times when it was a relatively unknown killer that ravaged the gay community. So this play basically is a gentle nudge- a reminder of what once was and how it is affecting that same community still today.

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Michael Keyloun as Will confronts Darrie Lawrence as Katharine in the Rep Studio production of “Mothers And Sons.” Photo: Peter Wochniak

A Rep and St. Louis acting treasure, Darrie Lawrence, plays Katharine- an older woman decked out in fur as she marvels at the beautiful view from a New York apartment in Manhattan’s Central Park West at play’s open. The young man she is talking to is Cal, who once was her deceased son’s (Andre) partner some twenty years in the past. She has popped in unexpectedly to confront him with two questions that have been festering for all these years- did he turn her son gay and did he give him the AIDS that killed him? From the beginning Harry Bouvy as Cal treats her with respect and calmly answers her questions- outlandish as they seem.

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Michael Keyloun as Will is reassured by Harry Bouvy as Cal in “Mothers And Sons” at the Rep Studio. Photo: Peter Wochniak

In those years since her son has died, Cal has moved on and has married (something that was not possible when Andre was still alive) his current partner, Will. He and their son Bud are in the park and soon arrive to create even more tension and perhaps begin to bring some sense of closure to her long and unhappy life. Michael Keyloun is a marvel as Will and he and Mr. Bouvy create a chemistry on stage that is truly believable. In fact, the entire cast including a marvelous Simon Desilets as Bud, elevate this script above soap opera into a very touching and relevant story. Shouting, accusations and a search for answers all dominate the action.

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Will and Cal embrace while Bud starts to warm up Katharine’s heart in the Rep Studio production of “Mothers And Sons.” Photo: Peter Wochniak

Director Michael Evan Haney is also responsible for controlling the schmaltz factor and making this more than just a rehash of many other AIDS stories from the past including some by playwright McNally. He brings a toughness and tenderness to the proceedings that are a perfect balance and has the cast with the chops to deliver. The James Wolk set design is a bit complicated at first glance with and in-the-round feel with four jutting corners where action takes place throughout. It’s never distracting however and the play flows through the living room/kitchen areas quite nicely.

John Wylie’s lights enhance the set and Elizabeth Eisloeffel’s costumes are appropriate including Katharine’s coat which almost becomes a character all by itself- at least a broad expression of her character.

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Darrie Lawrence as Katharine listens intently to Simon Desilets as Bud in the Rep Studio production of “Mothers And Sons.” Photo: Peter Wochniak

“Mothers And Sons” opens the current Rep Studio Theatre season and, while not covering a whole lot of new ground, is a bright and witty script by Terrence McNally with his usual pathos. It works and will still bring a tear to your eye as the final, touching scene brings full closure (hopefully) to several lives. It plays at the Studio of The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis through November 13th. Give them a call at 314-968-4925 for tickets or more information.

 

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