Terrence McNally's gripping modern masterpiece, Mothers and Sons, is a not not a gay play... it's certainly not for sissies. But I fear that straight people may be thinking "it's not for me", which is as true as, say, non-Russians thinking Chekhov's The Seagull is not for me, since The Seagull is not not a Russian play. Both are about family, memory and the difficulty of connection. Both are about fully drawn, interesting, complicated people. Nothing that any character says could be said by any other character, in either play. Each is complex, heartfelt, funny, tragic and wise. Both authors have clear themes and strong opinions, which will be apparent to the audience, but neither is giving predigested lessons or moral instruction, or shunting the audience cattle-like into a set of predetermined conclusions.
But to say that Mothers and Sons is a good old fashioned anything is only to recognize that Terrence McNally is operating at a level of craft, invention and ambition that few have the skills or balls to try anymore. Mothers and Sons is the work of one of the world's greatest playwrights who's still got everything he ever had, and has found in this contemporary setting something timeless and urgent -- the story to provoke his full fury, and demand the full range of his gifts.
I wept in a way I hadn't in many years as I watched Tyne Daly's breathtaking and masterful performance in Mothers and Sons as the play mirrored my own life so closely and profoundly. My younger half-brother, Joey, died of AIDS in 1991 at the age of 24, the same night they launched Desert Storm. For our family it felt like the world was coming to an end... especially for my Hungarian step-mother, Valeria, who had survived the Holocaust in hiding as a child and later, breast cancer.
I lived and Joey died. I can't begin to imagine how hard this must have been on her. Then 12 years ago, my "husband" Curtis and I had our twin sons Roman and Nyro through a surrogate mother. My father who was our connection with Valeria soon passed away as did my mother, yet Valeria continued to be a devoted grandmother to our boys although she doesn't have a biological connection to any of us. Recently, we sat quietly together and she told me how happy she was that she had us as her "family". I thought of Joey and the life he did not get to live... and I thought of Mothers and Sons.
Now nominated for the 2014 Tony® Award for Best Play, few plays on Broadway today speak as urgently to our times as "Mothers and Sons," the 20th Broadway production from legendary 4-time Tony® Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally, now playing at the Golden Theatre. In the play, Katherine -- portrayed by Tony®- and Emmy-winning Tyne Daly in perhaps her most formidable role -- visits the former lover of her late son twenty years after his death, only to find him now married to another man and raising a small child. A funny, vibrant, and deeply moving look at one woman's journey to acknowledge how society has evolved -- and how she might, "Mothers and Sons" is certain to spark candid conversations about regret, acceptance, and the evolving definition of "family." Daly is joined by Broadway vet Frederick Weller ("Take Me Out"), Tony® nominee Bobby Steggert ("Ragtime"), and newcomer Grayson Taylor, under the direction of Tony® nominee Sheryl Kaller ("Next Fall").
For more information and tickets, visit www.mothersandsonsbroadway.com.