Staring off into the distant snowy landscape of New York City, Andre’s mother searches for what has brought her here. She is silent, singularly focused and yet physically intrusive. Mothers and Sons, by Tony-winning playwright Terrence McNally, runs at Aux Dog Theatre (3011 Monte Vista NE) until March 15. The drama is captivating, nuanced and difficult to watch.
Set 20 years after McNally’s short teleplay Andre’s Mother, the story begins with Katherine Gerard (Colleen McClure) unexpectedly arriving at the home of Cal Porter (Kenneth Ansloan). Cal was deeply in love with Katherine’s son Andre before he died of AIDS in 1994. This shattering loss affected Cal and Katherine in contrasting ways. He has found a way to live despite Andre’s passing, while she has marinated in hatred and bitterness.
Cal was deeply in love with Katherine’s son Andre before he died of AIDS in 1994. This shattering loss affected Cal and Katherine in contrasting ways. He has found a way to live despite Andre’s passing, while she has marinated in hatred and bitterness.
Eight years after Andre’s death, Cal found love and has since married Will Ogden (A.J. Carian). Together, they’re raising their son, Bud (Asher Corbin). Ansloan, known primarily for his work with the hilarious theater troupe The Dolls, brings a warmth and gentleness to Cal’s family dynamic.
Katherine can’t accept her son’s sexual identity even in death. The rigidity of her character—embodied by McClure through physical stiffness and a stinging coldness to her voice—is the most heartbreaking to watch. Yet that’s the most important aspect. Katherine is a study in what hate does to humanity; McClure’s performance exudes acidity without alienating the audience. Surprisingly, we can see some glimpses of fragility in Katherine by the close of the play.
Carian shines as Cal’s husband Will. He proves to be a man bent on protecting his family from Katherine’s animosity, but he’s compassionate enough to break through to a woman who has lost everything. Under the direction of Jessica Osbourne, Mothers and Sons is a play that hurts and heals. An oral history of the LGBTQ community’s marginalization, it still finds hope and love at the community’s core.