Review: “Mothers and Sons” (Konk Life)

Review: “Mothers and Sons” (Konk Life)

Posted Fri, Feb 5, 2016 in Reviews

By Diane Johnson

Heartwarming, funny and insightful Mothers and Sons is an award winning dramatic production now playing at the Waterfront Playhouse.

Written by Terence McNally, the four-time Tony award-winning playwright, the show exposes the lingering pain of the gay community decades after AIDS first reared its ugly head. Murphy Davis directs the show, once again exhibiting her skills in guiding a talented cast. Michael Boyer does a terrific job on the set creating a New York City West Side apartment overlooking 5th Avenue.

Katherine, played by Joy Hawkins is attempting to understand her late son Andre, who died of AIDS. Joy delivers a stunning performance as the grief stricken mother, who is still struggling with her son’s death 20 years later. She is also newly widowed and the death of her husband has brought back all those unfinished and decidedly uncomfortable feelings about her life, her son Andre and how he died. Anger continually intrudes upon her grief, creating a huge obstacle that keeps her from embracing who her son was; and having an honest conversation with his former lover, whom she has sought out.

Matt McGrath is brilliant in his role as Cal, Andre’s original partner. Now married to Will with a son of their own; Cal’s interactions with Andre’s mother Katherine are full of emotion.  Their dialogue starts off stilted, but quickly transitions to a full on confrontation of past events. And yet, their love for Andre creates a common bond between the two, and one from which a caring relationship can grow.  Trey Gerrald is Will, Cal’s young and brutally honest husband. His playful energetic acting is a perfect complement to Matt’s serious character. Jake Ferguson portrays Bud, Will and Cal’s son. This eight-year-old native Key Wester is a talented actor and a delight to watch on stage. His character lends a whimsical and innocent dynamic into the conversation.

Mothers and Sons explores the intersection of family dynamics and the AIDS epidemic. Katherine is stuck in that old paradigm popular in the 80’s and 90’s that being gay was something to be ashamed of.  McNally’s story points out the stark differences between how mainstream America treated the gay community back then compared to today. Thirty years ago the legalization of gay marriage was unheard of, a fantasy of the imagination. Gay men who came of age in the 80’s and 90’s were treated with very little respect compared to those who have come of age in the past 5 to 10 years. As a result, those younger men expect to be treated equally by everyone. How to navigate those life experiences between couples of different generations is another one of the challenges this show reflects upon. An intelligent and heartfelt rendering, Mothers and Sons is an exquisite portrayal of the progress the gay community has achieved despite the horrors of the AIDS epidemic.

Mothers and Sons is now playing at the Waterfront Theater through February 13th. For tickets call the box office at: 305-294-5015 or go online at: https://www.waterfrontplayhouse.org

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