Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Review of About Face Theatre's The Temperamentals

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Temperamentals. It was by Jon Marans and it was directed by Andrew Volkoff. It was about the first gay rights activist group in the U.S., the Mattachine Society, and the founders' relationships with each other. It was about being united, equality, and what love really means. I thought this was a very beautiful and hilarious show. I think gay rights is very very important, and this is an inspirational story about expressing who you really are and learning to accept who you love.

Rudi (Lane Anthony Flores) and Harry (Kyle Hatley) are a couple, but they have to hide their feelings because Harry is already married to a woman. They were not afraid of what they felt for each other, but they were afraid of what might be said about them. In one of the first scenes, Rudi shows Harry a dress that he has been working on that is completely made out of a circle. I thought there was a metaphor there. Like when people look at Harry and Rudi, they don't see a couple, they see friends. When you look at the circle dress you don't see a circle, you see a dress. But when everything unfolds you see the circle. Even if this metaphor wasn't purposeful, it was still really cool. And I thought that it was a really cool dress (costume design by Mierka van der Ploeg); it reminds me of the the dresses they wear at Beauxbatons in Harry Potter. I loved Rudi's character in general. I though he was really well developed; he was lovable but you could still see his flaws--like he would basically do whatever it took to be famous or get a good job. Rudi had been fully reconciled to his sexuality, which Harry is not yet. It is really beautiful to see Rudi help Harry discover his true self. And Harry eventually helps Rudi actually take action about injustice to the gay community. I have seen a lot of adorable relationships in shows, but this seems at first to be one of the most functional. They seem to have a system going where they listen to each other and help each other solve their problems, but that doesn't continue throughout the entire show.

Bob (Alex Weisman) was basically a player. He didn't really ever settle on one person. He seemed to be always in some kind of love octagon. Even though we only meet two of his boyfriends, Chuck (Rob Lindley) and Dale (Paul Fagen), we know that there are probably many many more. He still didn't seem to register how this would make other people feel. He would just say something along the lines of, "Why is everyone picking on sweet, funny Bob?" Dale works at a carnival and he is important to the Mattachine society because he was kind of the face of the organization because he agreed to coming out so that he could prove in court that the way that police were treating gay people was unfair. Chuck was Bob's other boyfriend and they lived together, but he agrees that Bob can see other people for the benefit of the relationship. He seems pretty sad a lot of the time. I think he and Dale should totally get together because they both know how Bob made everything kind of stupid for them. I think that Bob really wants love, but he doesn't know how to go about it in ways that won't hurt people.

The second act starts with everyone except Harry dressed up as women playing all the women in Harry's life. It was really interesting and cool because the actor who plays Rudi plays Harry's wife, which is really heartbreaking. It is interesting to see how he portrays the wife of his boyfriend. He portrays her like an actual person. If it is Rudi, and not just the actor who plays him, it would show you how Rudi feels sorry for her and how much respect he has for her. Harry's mom (Lindley) seemed to suspect or maybe even know that her son was gay, maybe because he compliments her hat one too many times. She seems to be okay with his sexuality, which I think makes a great mom. And she also really wanted to make tea--maybe too much! I thought this was a funny and emotional scene because it was about the experience of coming out to all the people that you love: how much you dread it and the crazy reactions you might get.

People who would like this show are people who like connection, circle dresses, and love octagons. I think that people should definitely go see this show. It was moving, beautiful, and hilarious. I really loved it.

Photos: Michael Brosilow

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