Author:  Jonathan Wilson

Title:  Kilt

Where seen: Trumpet Vine theater Company, Theater on the Run, Arlington, VA 10/2003

Director: Vincent Worthington

Performance time: 130 Minutes and one intermission

Cast: Ryan Clary (Tom Robertson + young Robertson grandfather), Chris Niebling (Captain Lavery, and male trick), Dorothy Sheldon (Esther McPhail Robertson), John Feist (bar patron, David Lavery), Mary McPhail (Jean Miller)

Recording available:

Relevance to HPPUB: gays in the military


The play takes place in Toronto, Ontario and Glasgow, Scotland (1994), and Tobruk, Libya during the North African campaign of World War II in 1941.The story in layered in an English Patient manner, with the gradual evolution of the love story for Private Robertson and Captain Lavery during the 1941 campaign in the British Army. Okay, it’s fraternization (officer and enlisted), all right, but as the story evolves, it adds to unit cohesion. The men become close when huddled together during a bombardment, and then gradually tease each other into intimacy. Robertson’s muscular and hairy virility adds to the tension. Okay, in one scene I would have done a shirt unbuttoning.

In modern time, the younger Robertson has a tense relationship with his mother, who feels his lifestyle makes him “not part of the family.” There are enticing early scenes where Tom Robertson plays table dancer with his kilt (and no underwear). Then they travel to Scotland for the grandfather’s funeral. The grandfather had led a long healthy life after the war. Then the plot twist to glue the story together occurs, as Captain Lavery comes back into the scene to bring the family back together. He speaks of how it was for gay men back then, as “bachelors” with “pals.”


Related reviews: In the Heart of America


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