Review by: Dale Reynolds
These days we’re all aware of the growing amount of class LGBTQ theatre, and there is now also positive growth in outsiders’ perceptions of this persecuted minority. A major addition to this growing output will send you running to the historic Fountain Theatre in Hollywood to see a superior drama, Daniel’s Husband by Michael McKeever.
Solidly directed by Simon Levy, with excellent casting, this ninety-minute play flies by in an instant. Daniel (Bill Brochtrup), in his late 30s, perhaps, is a successful architect and his lover/partner/mate for over a decade is Mitchell (Tim Cummings), a couple of years older, is a flourishing novelist.
Daniel and Mitchell have a solid life: money, love and (as described in the program), living in “a perfectly appointed home,” but the fly-in-the-ointment is Daniel’s divorced mother, Lydia (Jenny O’Hara), who is a loving but dominant feature-in their lives.
Lydia has come to stay for a week and in a mother-lovin’-manner creates havoc, which leads to some serious undercutting in the men’s relationship due to Daniel and Mitchell’s divergent views on the institution of marriage. Notwithstanding, Lydia’s firm approval of her son’s sexuality and his enduring relationship with Mitchell, Daniel has a strong need to solidify his relationship with his loved one. But that desire conflicts with Mitchell’s intellectual understanding that the concept of marriage is something outdated and anyway, something only heterosexuals do.
Of course in the real world, marriage is more than just a manifestation of a couple’s love for each other; it also has major value in taxes, health issues and inheritances. All of which come to a dramatic point when Daniel is afflicted with a serious brain disorder and Lydia claims him for her own over the objections of his partner, Mitchell.
The crux of McKeever’s drama is that when it comes to gay-rights, legal marriage is of prime importance, and that now that the U.S. Supreme Court has made it legal in every state in the Union, putting things off can lead to tragic results.
What works so well in this well-crafted, small-set drama is the balance McKeever shows in his characters: Lydia is no villain and Mitchell has a strong point. So the vivid setup works like gangbusters and the playwright has a hit play in his satchel.
Director Levy makes sure the actors reach their emotional goals, and every one of them makes the most of their moments. Watching the four middle-aged actors not over-or under-play their characters’ wants and needs is a joy to behold. Brocktrup (known for his exemplary work with Antaeus) and Cummings are a match and Martin explores his need for younger partners, no matter how short-changing the relationships, which allows Fernando choices that show off his talents as well as his looks. O’Hara again exploits her acting chops by making Lydia’s love for Daniel dominate her over-weaning need to care for him, long-standing partner or no.
The technical aspects are exemplary in this small but valuable theatrical asset to Los Angeles. On the lovely, if somewhat sterile set of DeAnne Millais, lighting designer Jennifer Edwards and costume designer Michael Mullen’s work stand out sharply.
This is an exciting piece of quality theatre and works for all with its clarity on the issues and its strong emotional resonance.
What: “Daniel’s Husband”
Where: Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Avenue, Hollywood, CA 90029
When: Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 2pm and 8pm, Sundays at 2pm and Mondays at 8pm through June 23rd.
Photos by Ed Krieger