VEXED Colin O’Leary plays Eric, a gay man for whom ‘the question’ is truly a start.
It's a testament to our cultural progress, perhaps, that most of the troubles surrounding Eric's imminent wedding have little to do with the fact that he's marrying a man. What vexes Eric (Colin O'Leary) are the same woes that might vex many a groom-to-be, of any sexual orientation: A meddlesome and boutique-minded Jewish mother (Jackie Oliveri), her inability to be in the same room with his father (Denis Fontaine), who cheated with and then married a twenty-something stripper (Andrea Carr), the vicissitudes of flowers and guest lists, and his own commitment/abandonment issues. Such are the conflicts in the cheerfully crass comedy My Gay Son's Wedding, which is part of a two-part play called The Blue Moon Chronicles, written and directed by Jeffrey Kagan-McCann, and produced at Lucid Stage through June 26.
Marriage comes along pretty suddenly for Eric, when his impish live-in boyfriend Jason (Sean Senior) pops the question out of the blue, and then insists on having the wedding that very weekend. A lawyer and a worrier, Eric worries and ponders contingencies. They are many: Besides suffering through the histrionics of his parents, he also has to deal with an aggressive New Age wedding planner Maxine (Erin Curren) and eleventh-hour interference from his former lover, Connor (Smith Galtney, on the Thursday I attended). Will Eric overcome his fears and commit to a lifetime with his true love? Will Maxine talk them into a Navy theme-wedding?
The play proceeds in sit-comical fashion, rife with humor that's just as happily crude as The Hangover. One scene breaks down into a sort-of fantasy sequence of The Jerry Springer Show, with the two (white) men who love Eric acting out their rivalry as (if I have correctly understood their patois) black bitches in a catfight. In another scene, Eric's flashback to his parents' doomed marriage, a vicious argument veers suddenly into lust and amorous use of the term "turkey baster." How much you enjoy this show will probably be keyed to how much you enjoy this species of comedy.
In keeping with the sit-com ethos, its characters are written as types, sometimes hugely caricatured, and the actors generally play this to the max. As the quintessential nightmare of a high-maintenance Jewish mom, Oliveri is pitch-perfect — snappy, sassy, hysterical, and she sneaks in some great barbed ad-libs. Heather is drawn as just as much of a lampoon, and in Carr's rather sly hands, she is a riot. Carr wisely makes Heather not a shrill, oblivious squealer, which would have been difficult to bear, but a lot more measured — she's a fun-loving, sensual and watchful kook who comes to her own conclusions about what she sees around her. She unfortunately has to deliver some lines that push the dumb-slut parody a bit far, though — having her struggle to remember the words to "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" seems just plain mean-spirited. Exceeding the bounds of caricature completely is Maxine, the lesbian wedding planner with issues beyond Eric and Jason's foibles. Her aggression and ritualistic arm movements (as she feels out the room's feng shui) are less funny than frankly bewildering.