Sunday, April 3, 2016

Twilight of the Golds—Twilight Theater Company—N. Portland

Search For Unconditional Love

This dramatic tale is written by Jonathan Tolins and directed by Ronald Jorgensen.  It is playing at their space, 7515 N. Brandon Ave. (just off Lombard), through April 16th (limited parking in the church parking lot across the street).  For more information, go to their site at or call 503-847-9838.

The “window dressing” for this story is about the dynamics of two upper middle-class, Jewish families in NYC during the mid-90’s.  Rob Stein (William Ferguson) is a genetics engineer at a medical research facility.  His wife, Suzanne (Danyelle Tinker), is a jewelry buyer for a big department store.  Her brother, David Gold (Jason A England), is a gay, production designer for an opera company.  His (and Suzanne’s) parents are Phyllis (Jodi Rafkin) and Walter (Chandano Fuller).  He is an investment broker.

At the opening, they are celebrating their three year anniversary.  You sense that Suzanne is over-dependant on her parents and that Rob seems to just tolerate that.  David is constantly relating the joys of opera, especially the Ring Trilogy, which they all just tolerate.  His partner, Steven, is conspicuously absent from these gatherings, another “toleration” one senses.  On the surface, a very light and tolerant group.  But everything is about to change in a flash, when she announces she is pregnant.

It is not the procreation that will upset this “tolerant” family but the fact that genetics can predict certain traits evident in the child before it is born.  And so Rob and Suzanne embark on this journey.  On the surface it seems great, as one might discover the causes of disease.  But, on the darker side, what happens if those “traits” don’t conform to what the parents’ desire.  Abortion?  And, here’s the kicker (and where it delves into the realm of Sci-Fi), what if there were a way to tell whether a child will be Gay which, according to the tests, he is?!  My, what a can of worms gets opened now….

Of course the fallacy to the whole argument, besides being that genetics cannot predict the sexual orientation of a fetus, is that Nurture is as crucial as Nature in the raising and determining of how a child turns out.  A similar interesting theory was proclaimed in a play and film of the 50’s called, The Bad Seed.  In it a baby is adopted at birth and raised in a “traditional” loving home, with no knowledge that her birth mother is actually is murderer.
And, despite all good intentions from her adopted parents, the child turns out to be one, too.  Rosemary’s Baby could also be put in this category, as to what a loving mother, perhaps, can do to change Nature.  Again, all Sci-Fi material, but thought-provoking.

But, back to this story, her brother is naturally pleased.  The husband and father-in-law are pre-disposed to be homophobic and the women seem to be torn, not so much from their own basic, nurturing feelings but because their mates don’t seem to be on the same page with them.  I cannot tell you more without spoiling issues that should be discovered by the audience.  The resolution, to me, seemed a bit of a cop-out but I understand why it was chosen.  What it all boils down to, is to simply love someone for who they are, not what you expect them to be, or how you might want to change them.  Unconditional Love is, I believe, the key.  Find that and it will unlock the door to unimaginable treasures!

I especially liked the marriage of opera music and the Ring tale to highlight aspects of this story.  Jorgensen has done well in giving us a roller-coaster ride about halfway through, as emotions explode and then diminish just as quickly, how much of real family dynamics work.  And the cast seems right for their roles.  Especially good are England, as the gay brother, and Tinker, as his sister, both very convincing in difficult roles.

I recommend this play but, because of the subject matter, it is for more mature people.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.

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