DOASKDOTELL DRAMA, MUSICAL OR PLAY REVIEW of Paul Donnelly’s Whole Against the Sky


Author:  Paul Donnelly

Title:  Whole Against The Sky

Where seen: Trumpet Vine Theatre Company, 2006   Arlington VA

Director: Paul Donnelly

Performance time: 135 min + 20 min intermission

Cast: Jon Townson (as Jack Rheingold), Ellie Nicoll (Linda, his sister), Jean Hudson Miller (their mother), Gerald B. Browning (Linda’s husband), Danile Mascarello (Dennis), David Drake (Colin)

Recording available:

Relevance to DOASKDOTELL: GLBT and families

Review: I think of a live stage play like is as a little bit like a 3-D movie. There is one set, that doubles as a home in Cincinnati, and an apartment in Washington (with some rearrangement), but the play has lots of monologues and retrospects from the individual characters, giving it somewhat the Lars Van Tier “dogma” effect. The play is in two parts, the first half a somewhat meandering sonata of a gay lawyer’s visit to his mother’s home in Cincinnati, in 1993. (Curiously the politics of the new Clinton administration with respect to gay issues is never mentioned.) She pounces on him for undomestic habits, like eating out of the can. He recounts his relationship with Billy (not shown), who has died of AIDS, and in one soliloquy recounts the experience graphically. He has a lover Dennis, who seems to sit on the sidelines. His married sister seems to bond with him. Part two is more cohesive, sort of like a musical fugue. Now, in 1995, Jack lives in Washington DC with a boyish lover Colin, and Mother shows up uninvited and insists on staying because she is Mother.  When she starts to bond with Colin, she threatens the relationship between Jack and Colin, as Jack has to deal with his domain-like possessiveness of Colin, even as his own mother is also a possessive, psychologically masculine person. Jack remains fully dressed the whole time, but the other three male characters become much more exposed, allowing some visual contrasts along rather stereotyped lines. The dialogue plays the cultural family values off with many subtle observations. Linda's husband "brags" about becoming a car salesman, admitting that the occupation has a bad social reputation, but seeming to accept the idea that hucksterism is right for him because now he will have a family to support.
Related reviews:  The David Dance (Don Scime)


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