Standing on Ceremony

Michael Silverstein, left, and Stuart Hoffman

photo / Steve Wagner

“Standing On Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays” is a collection of 10-minute plays that examine the state of gay union.

Conceived by Brian Schipper and written by some of the nation’s best playwrights, “Standing On Ceremony” explores how far society has come in terms of same-sex unions and how far it needs to go.

The regional premiere at Cleveland Public Theatre, under the witty and incisive direction of Craig J. George and with a topnotch ensemble, is funny and deeply moving.

While the offering serves as a platform for the gay agenda, it also delivers an evening of very entertaining theatre.

In Jordan Harrison’s “The Revision,” Nate (Stuart Hoffman) and Wallace (Michael Silverstein) rewrite the traditional language of the wedding ceremony in light of the political and legal restrictions facing gay couples.

In “This Flight Tonight” by Wendy McLeod, Allie (Beth Wood) and Hannah (Molly Anders-Hinders) are waiting at the airport for a flight to Iowa to get married in Hannah’s hometown. Seized by self-doubt, Allie fears getting tied down in a monogamous relationship. Hannah reassures her it’s only normal.

Two of the best and funniest pieces are by gay Jewish playwright Paul Rudnick.

“The Gay Agenda” is a humorous satire about an Ohio matron (a terrific Maryann Elder) and staunch advocate of the traditional, heterosexual family who professes she loves everyone including Jews, Muslims and even the Chinese (who made her jacket), but who draws the line on gay marriages.

“My Husband” centers on Gabrielle (Elder) a Jewish mother and staunch liberal ecstatic when the New York State legislature legalizes gay marriage but laments that her gay son, Michael (Silverstein) is still single. Jealous of her friends whose gay kids’ marriages are the talk of the town, Gabrielle takes matters in her own hands in her hilarious efforts to find a mate for Michael.

“On Facebook” by Doug Wright dramatizes an event that actually appeared on the social network in which participants exchange heated points of view about gay marriage. It’s extremely well done by ensemble members who, in a clever touch, wear masks to keep their identities secret.

In “Strange Fruit” by Neil LaBute, Tom (Dana Hart) and Jerry (Hoffman) decide to get married after years of living together as a committed couple. They journey to California only to find tragedy knocking at the door.

The most moving and meaningful piece is gay Jewish playwright Moises Kaufman’s “London Mosquitoes.” Hart is luminous as the Jewish Joe, wearing a yarmulke and delivering the elegy about his dearly beloved partner, Paul.

Paul was a scientist; the title refers to the evolution of a new species of mosquitoes during construction of the London subway, which becomes a metaphor for the ever-evolving gay class. As the mosquitoes had to alter themselves to survive, so have gays had to alter themselves, a direct reference to the AIDS plague. The play contains a beautiful monologue about the relationship of two men who lived and loved together for 46 years until Paul’s death from pancreatic cancer.

To date, only six states have made gay marriage legal. They are Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York. In Ohio, there is a constitutional ban on gay marriage. “Standing on Ceremony” hits home.

WHAT: “Standing On Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays”

WHERE: Cleveland Public Theatre’s Gordon Square Theatre, 6415 Detroit Ave.

WHEN: Through Saturday, Oct. 20

TICKETS & INFO: 216-631-2727 or www.cptonline.org playhousesquare.org

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