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05/30/2007

Looking back at 'Facing East'

by Jeremy Hooper

Lg FacingeastWe want to take a brief moment to make you aware of a fantastic new play that we had the honor of seeing last night. Facing East, currently playing at NYC's Atlantic Theater Stage Two (330 W. 16th), revolves around a devout Mormon couple whose gay son has committed suicide after a long, religious-based struggle with his sexual orientation. Set at the son's funeral, the heartbreak comes to a head when the non-accepting parents (the father is a religious radio personality who is embroiled in the "pro-family" movement; the mother a religious housewife who lives for her children) are unexpectedly forced to interact with their son's bereaved partner. The three characters share their versions of the son and lover they knew and loved, and over the course of the one-act presentation, paint a raw, human portrait of a conflicted life that has been wasted at the hand of faith-based bigotry. In fact, the presence of the missing Andrew is so palpable, you half expect a fourth actor to take a bow at the curtain call. Alas, he is not there.

To say the story resonated with this writer would be quite the understatement. The themes and issues at hand (religious hypocrisy, reparative therapy, finding true love at the expense of familial bonds) will surely hit home with any gay person who has faced abandonment or family alienation due to their refusal to live a lie. However, the raw human emotion will move anyone with a heart (regardless of sexual orientation). In fact, there were surely one or two lines I missed during the last ten minutes, as the sounds of sniffs and sobs in the audience grew more and more audible. But happily, there is just enough levity to keep the piece from completely breaking your heart, and just enough hopefulness to leave you with the idea that the parents (and society at large) may actually learn from their mistakes.

So if you're in NYC or plan to visit between now and June 17, you should definitely consider taking in Facing East. Whether you are gay or straight, you shouldn't miss it. If you are a heterosexual parent who feels that your own queer child is wrong, immoral, and somehow flawed, then you should be required by law to attend!

Facing East [Plan-B Theatre]

**Facing East production shot: 

 

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Your thoughts

Carol Lynn Pearson strikes me as an amazing figure, a creative, thoughtful, healing presence.

Also fascinating to me is that she is not just the former spouse of a gay man who had AIDS, she is the former mother-in-law of Stephen Fales, the writer/performer of Confessions of a Mormon Boy (mormonboy.com).

Posted by: Steve Boese | May 30, 2007 9:53:52 AM

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