Twenty years after a difficult meeting at a gravesite, two people once again try to connect. Yet keep each other cautiously at bay. They are Katherine Gerard (Tyne Daly), who lost her son Andre to AIDS, and Cal Porter (Frederck Weller) who had been his lover. (This gravesite meeting was dramatized, in fact, a few more years than twenty ago in a one act play and then a PBS teleplay called André’s Mother). Now, out of the blue, and for reasons still unarticulated, Katherine has contacted Cal, who is doing well and still in NYC. She’s in his apartment with him now, an apartment he shares with his new, much younger partner of several years, Will (Bobby Steggert) and their adopted son, Bud (Grayson Taylor).
Since there’s precious little story, per se, just the peeling away of layers to get to the nitty-gritty, I’m loathe to say too much more. Save only that in Mothers and Sons, Terrence McNally has compellingly dramatized an aftermath confrontation. This is a post-crisis play (if not precisely post-AIDS). It looks not upon the issues that exploded when the epidemic was at its height, but rather the ones—some of the ones—that are left for survivors, and the families of the lost, to sort out.
Typically for McNally, there is much humor, even though the proceedings are serious, for he is also dealing with human foibles, and those often tend toward the laughable. The cast is impeccable—the nuances of Tyne Daly, as always, add up to a master class in detail, craft and control—and the direction of Sheryl Kaller has an immaculateness to match; she seems to have done nothing (as it should be in a naturalistic play) but pacing, tone, the stage picture of a given moment…all are perfectly balanced.
I’m not sure a play this intimate, small and short (90 minutes, no ‘mish) belongs on Broadway anymore, not where the consumer is concerned, because ticket prices have become so insane. But at least this one offers some cathartic reward for the investment.
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