Theater Review - Mothers and Sons (NY)

Terrence McNally is a four-time Tony award winner; his many plays are works of art. However, his latest Broadway play,  “Mothers and Sons,” is a grave disappointment. Ninety minutes without intermission, it is well-meaning, but bitter and didactic.

 

Tyne Daly is one those actresses who could stand on stage reciting the alphabet and it would be stirring.  She stars as Katherine Gerard, a wealthy woman—we know that because of the gorgeous mink coat decorated with a large brooch she is wearing (Costumes-Jess Goldstein) when the first scene opens in a comfortable upper west side NY apartment (Set-John Lee Beatty/Lighting- Jeff Croiter). It seems this recently widowed woman is on the way to Rome for Christmas and has, after many years,  dropped in without warning to see her son, André's, former lover, Cal. Katherine is very uptight in the beginning and angry on every front. She admits early on that she is not amused by anything. We find out that she moved from Rye, NY to Texas, when she married her rich husband, and hates the state and its people. In fact, she has no friends and no family.   

 

Cal, a part Frederick Weller imbues with sincerity, nursed André, an actor, with great care through his death from AIDS. After André died twenty years ago, Cal waited eight years and married the much younger Will, playfully portrayed by Bobby Seggert.  Together they have fathered a son, Bud. As this six year old, blond Grayson Taylor is adorable looking, but his voice is so high-pitched, only dogs could hear it.

 

This is supposed to be an exploration of feelings on three sides. Katherine is still furious because her son was gay. She wants to blame Cal or someone for this.  Cal does not want to be held responsible for André’s behavior and for the fact that he is married now and is living a fulfilling life.  Will feels he is constantly being compared to André, whose image is embodied in a bright red poster of him as Hamlet.

 

Although Tyne Daly gives a clear and intelligent performance, it is difficult to believe that Katherine would still be this miserable after all these years and yet would be won over by a child offering an Oreo cookie. Sheryl Kallers does the best she can with directing this one note work.  Now that that the playwright has gotten these issues off his chest, perhaps he can return to writing a new wonderful piece.  

         

“Mothers and Sons” on Broadway at the Golden Theatre. 

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