A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of seeing “Mothers and Sons” on Broadway. Written by Terrence McNally and starring Tyne Daly, it was truly one of the most memorable nights out at the theatre I’ve had in a while. Â The story it has to tell is so important and makes you take a hard look at a part of our history that must never be repeated…or forgotten. It was a time of upheaval when AIDS came in and took so many lives, one of which is talked about in this play.
It also features the first gay couple to legally wed on a Broadway stage. McNally, a gay activist and legendary playwright who is renowned for bringing important issues to the stage, has brought AIDS driven story lines to the stage before, as he did in 1988 with “Andre’s Mother,” but perhaps Broadway wasn’t ready to tell the story of a time when the world wasn’t paying close attention to an epidemic that was sweeping our nation (the Reagan era), when too many lives were innocently lost. But in the last few years Broadway has seen tremendous success with “Angels in America” and “The Normal Heart,” and there’s not been a better time to bring a play like this to NYC. Clearly McNally knew many of the people whose lives were taken suddenly and unfairly by AIDS and he writes ab0ut it movingly and realistically in his new play.
Judging by the audience reaction to this show the night I saw it, the time has come to bring it to life.
“Mothers and Sons” is a short play, just 90 minutes, but so much happens in that time. You have a bitter mother, played by the legendary Tyne Daly, visiting the former lover of her gay son, played by Frederick Weller, who died from AIDS during a time no one knew how to treat or respond to it and his husband, played by Bobby Steggart, and their son, played by Grayson Taylor. They meet up in the young family’s Upper West Side apartment 20 years after her son’s death somehow by accident (she drops in unannounced) to reminisce about who he was and more importantly, why he died.
Tyne Daly’s character has spent the last 20 years blaming other people for her son’s death and has returned to NYC with a sense of vengeance that is tackled with sensitivity in the play. She’s surprised to see that Weller’s character now has a husband and son, knowing fully that when her son was alive, gay marriage was forbidden. Yet it’s hard for her to be happy for them knowing what she had was taken away from her with no explanation. The conversations that go on in this play are not easy and are full of psychological undertones and each one is played out beautifully and skillfully by the show’s actors.
The result is depressing and stimulating yet life affirming. Â The final moment is one that I haven’t been able to get out of mind since seeing the show.
This play is a must see.
“Mothers and Sons” is playing at the Golden Theatre on 252 West 45th Street. Tickets range from $59-#137 and can be purchased by calling 212-239-6200.