by Lorie Lewis Ham
I can always count on StageWorks Fresno to bring something to the Valley that will move and challenge you, that makes you think and feel deeply, and addresses subjects that need to be addressed. That’s what they have done this year not only with Mothers and Sons which opened this past weekend, but also with The Christians, and The Full Monty.
Mothers and Sons was written by Terrence McNally, and opened on Broadway in 2014. It takes place 20 years after the events in his 1990 television drama Andre’s Mother (which I now intend to check out). Twenty years ago, Katharine Gerard (Amelia Ryan) lost her son Andre to AIDS. In this play, she visits Andre’s partner, Cal (Billy Jack Anderson), who is now married to a younger man named Will (Logan Cooley). The couple also have a young son named Bud (two brothers take turns playing this part-Leon and Arion Jimesanagnos-I saw Arion). She visits on the pretense of returning her son’s diary to Cal, which he had sent her some time ago and didn’t want back. While she acts like she really doesn’t want to be there, Cal can’t seem to get rid of her. They end up spending much of the play dealing with old wounds and old memories. Katherine also learns many things about her son’s life that she never knew because she rejected him when he came out. In the midst of all of this Katharine ends up meeting Will, who while trying to be nice doesn’t really like her, and their adorable son Bud, who with the innocence of a child welcomes her warmly but also asks some difficult questions.
This show takes you into the heart of the tragedies of the early years of the AIDS epidemic in the US and brings to life the heartbreak of those who lost partners, friends, and children. You also get to watch a mother’s prejudices be worn down by love.
Billy Jack and Amelia provide powerful and moving performances, and the ending was just beautiful. This show will make you think, at times make you angry at prejudices, but also make you laugh and cry. It is a beautiful story of love, loss, reconciliation, and moving on.
Mothers and Sons is a 90-minute show with no intermission, but the time flies by as you get caught up in the lives of these characters. Kudos to director Joel Abels for bringing us yet another wonderful, moving, and thoughtful show.
The show plays through September 17 in the Fresno Art Museum’s Bonnor Auditorium, 2233 N. First Street in Fresno. Tickets can be purchased on the StageWorks Fresno website!
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