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