Katharine Gerard (Angie Radosh) stands elegantly beside Cal Porter (Michael McKeever). She is staring blindly down at Manhattan from the windows of his high rise co-op. He is chattering nervously, trying to break through her coldly aloof shell. He strives to be welcoming; she gives nothing in return. He persists and eventually she acknowledges him, politely at first, but then, still mourning the AIDS death of her son, André, when he was Cal's lover twenty years previously, spews her endless bitterness at Cal, his husband Will (Jeremiah Musgrove) and their small son Bud (Gabe Sklar).
It is the opening of Terrence McNally's Mothers and Sons, now playing at GableStage and which opened earlier this year on Broadway. This is a one act history of the acceptance of gay life since the eighties. And perhaps this is why the whole thing seems familiar. The stories and the attitudes are not new; they can't be. But the strong performances of the actors do much to lessen the obviousness of a mother's grief, her belief that her son was not to blame for his own death, her bitterness at the unfairness of her unloved husband deserting her by dying, and the appalling knowledge of her own loneliness.
The twenty years that passed have treated Cal Porter much more gently. He is now a wealthy man with a supposedly happy family. But he has never forgotten the death of André. Nor has he allowed husband Will Ogden to forget. There's jealousy in their home, despite the lollipop cute kid searching for his Granny.
Katherine insists she must leave; she's dropped in only to leave her son's diary with Cal. A book she has never read and one which Cal doesn't wish to. But she accepts a drink and she stays and she meets Will and Bud and slowly the stories are told, the secrets dropped, and here the actors excel. Radosh with her hooded stare is the complete pseudo grande dame. McKeever disappears completely into the deeply passionate Cal and relative new comer Musgrove is the well grounded, would be perfect husband and father.
Director Joseph Adler, despite the murmurings of "poor me" throughout the script, has delivered an intense piece, every sin exposed, every wish granted in a production that brought the opening night crowd to its feet.
Lyle Baskin designed the beautifully realistic tower apartment and Jeff Quinn's ideal lighting is the perfect match.
Mothers and Sons plays through October 19 at GableStage at the Biltmore, 1200 Anastasia Avenue, Coral Gables. 305-445-1119 www.gablestage.org.