Who would have thought the red-hot and polarizing issue of same-sex marriage could produce a play this riveting without being preachy? Or that it could be funny at times!
Thank God, or the gods, that writer David L. Ray did. In Caught his words and ideas, persuasively expressed by the cast, portray the clash between a Bible-quoting Georgia preacher and two men on the eve of their wedding, and the effects of their struggle on everyone around them.
The first-rate cast members make all their various relationships (BFF, lovers, estranged siblings, adoring teenager) believable. Stand-out Amanda Kaschak expresses the joy and enthusiasm of a young woman on her first excursion beyond her small and small-minded home town. Wise beyond her years, she immediately bonds with her uncle's lover, movingly and charmingly played by Will Beinbrink.
Beinbrink locks horns with, teases, kisses, and makes wedding arrangements with his still semi-closeted, soon-to-be husband, well played by Corey Brill with just enough charm and "justifications for his hesitations" that evokes sympathy for his seeming inability to fully embrace his gayness.
Micah McCain wonderfully plays the couple's best friend. He always knows when to make them laugh, how to plan their wedding and when to offer the serious words of wisdom that only he can espouse - usually some "God-chosen" Bible scripture. McCain is funny!
It is Deborah Puette as the preacher's wife who displays the largest emotional arc when she suddenly lands on her little brother's (and, unbeknownst to her, his lover's) doorstep in LA. Her character development turns out to be more than a peripheral aspect of this play. Without giving any of the action away, there will be audience members that will question her resulting choices, but will ultimately understand her reasoning.
Richard Jenik has the hardest role to pull off. He plays the high and mighty preacher damning all perverts to hell. It's hard to see beyond his fire and brimstone, scripture-spouting façade to the humanity buried deep underneath, but even so he manages to possess three dimensions.
Adam Flemming designed the cozy light-wooded living room set with an inviting patio adjacent.
This world premiere production is ably directed by three-time Ovation Award winner Nick DeGruccio keeping the action tight and smooth, funny where needed, and edge-of-the-seat tense otherwise. Expect to periodically shed some tears with your laughter.
Performances through January 23, 2011. Zephyr Theatre, 7456 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles 90046. Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm; Sundays at 2pm.
No performances on Fri 12/24, Sat 12/25 or Fri 12/31.
Added performances Sun 12/26 and Sun 1/2 at 7pm.
For tickets, call (800) 595-4849, or reserve online: www.CaughtThePlay.com
Gil Kaan, a West Hollywood-based freelance journalist, has contributed to media outlets including Genre, Frontiers, Dot Newsmagazine, ReelGay.com, and WestHollywood.com