Off-Broadway theatre review
By Michael Reubens
When it comes to family – blood-lines, Adoption or families of choice – decisions about relationships are the forefront of daily loving and living life to the full.
Case in point Daniel’s Husband, a new play by Michael McKeever, now playing at the Westside Theatre (Upstairs).
As the title of the piece implies, this is a portrayal of gay relationships, of choices, of values, respect and honesty.
We meet four friends at a dinner party at Daniel’s home. Two couples seemingly enjoying themselves albeit playing word games, discussing politics and Sharing amusing anecdotes. There’s Daniel, the host (Ryan Spahn), his live-in partner, Mitchell, (Matthew Montelongo), their friend, Barry (Lou Liberatore) and his much younger boyfriend, Trip (Leland Wheeler).
All seems fairly cordial on the surface until Trip erroneously refers to Mitchell as Daniel’s husband, a reference which immediately brings anger and vitriol and a refusal by Mitchell to believe in the sanctity of this union. Strange perhaps, as being married to a member of the same gender is legal in all fifty US states since 2015.
Enter Daniel’s mother, Lydia (Anna Holbrook) making an entrance so profound and bizarre, one wonders what this lioness is doing or plotting in her own self-made lion’s den, as her strategy weaves up and down a winding road.
Not wanting to divulge a spoiler-alert, suffice to say that this well-written, well acted and directed drama by Joe Brancatto unfolds in a nail-biting ninety minutes power-house of a play without an intermission.
Plot lines focus on gay relationships, legal and moral rites, health issues and “happy families.”
A highly-charged, deeply emotional point occurs in the play when Daniel develops a life-threatening brain embolism and is left in a vegetative state. Now a legal impasse ensues whether Michell or Daniel’s mother will bear the responsibility of legal care-giver.
How and what is “family”. Both subjective and puzzling, even in 2018.
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