By Geoffrey Nauffts
Directed by Jamie DeHay
Starring Scott Browning and Ryan Dowd Urch
Unseen Images Theatre
Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando FL
Religion can condemn nearly anything, yet sinners have successfully used it to justify their actions for centuries. Luke (Urch) is a great example: he says grace at dinner, reads the bible and cruises for guys. Adam (Browning) is first amused and then offended, but they still stick it out for five years until disaster strikes. A cab whacks Luke and now he’s in a coma and friend and family members are arriving for the potential end of everything Luke. Was Luke a believer? Both his dad Butch (Tim Bass) and his mother Arlene (Lori McCaskill) raised him that way, and even though they split up ages ago, they have faith that God has a plan for Luke as well as the rest of us. Oh, yeah, Luke never came out to his parents, and neither of them can exactly understand why Adam is hanging around. That’s a bit awkward for everyone.
Despite an exposition laden first act, this is a unique story well executed. The normal “gays vs religious” argument is nicely subverted, and Luke and Adam have a sort of Odd Couple dynamic that makes their relation interesting on its own. Browning is a nervous ball of energy; he comes to terms with Luke’s more flexible interpretation of faith but butts heads with the parental units. Urch is the clean, fashionable one, he recommends Adam wear periwinkle, a color straight guys can’t even see. Both the parents are strong and feel like an authentically divorced couple, McCaskill has that old school southern talky charm while Bass mumbles and “Aw, shucks” his way around until an explosion is called for and then he becomes a volcano. Andrea Gentry and Keith Newhouse make of the rest of the cast, they are quite reasonable kids in the background, and provide a solid bed for the fireworks other light.
Is there a divine plan for everyone? Or is life a random collection of tragic events? Since God is bad at returning phone calls, they two are practically indistinguishable, and what would you different if it wasn’t the way you currently believe? Probably nothing, we all have to react to bad events and good events either way and there no backing up. I liked Luke and I liked his family, and their difficult decision is one we all will face eventually. Whether there a “meaning” to a death is one of those philosophical questions best discussed after a few beers, but until the bar opens, this show is a great starting point for either argument.
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