The relationship between mothers and sons can be complex. Sometimes it can be messy. But should one of them have the audacity to die leaving unresolved issues between them, it can be the foundation for an extraordinary evening at the theatre. The Zach Theatre’s current production of Terrence McNally’s play, Mothers and Sons, directed by Dave Steakley and starring Michael Learned, four-time Emmy nominee, is such a show.
The play opens in the New York apartment of Cal Porter and Will Ogden. Michelle Ney (Set Design) and Scott Groh (Properties Design), create a space that is not only beautiful but reveals so much about the people who live there: the art, the books, the child’s toy on the floor, the Christmas tree waiting to be dressed. This is a home where a family lives.
As the lights come up, we are immediately caught up in the one-sided conversation between Cal Porter, played by Martin Burke, and Katharine Gerard, played by the amazingly talented Michael Learned, perhaps best known for her role on The Walton’s.
As the story unfolds, we learn that many years ago Cal was a lover to Katharine’s son, Andre, a talented young actor who left Dallas and earned professional recognition in New York before dying of Aids in the 1990’s. Other than the memorial service for Andre, Katharine and Cal had never met. Unbeknownst to Cal, Katharine has kept up with Cal’s activities through Christmas card exchanges with Cal’s sister. She even called Cal twice over the intervening years, but hung up before actually speaking with him. Recently widowed, Katharine decides to visit Cal before departing on a European trip.
In the opening conversation, which is painfully one-sided, we learn that Cal is now married to Will Ogden, played by Nicholas Rodriguez, and together they have a son, Bud Ogden-Porter, played by William May. As Cal struggles to be open about his current circumstances and the joy he has found in his marriage to Will and the birth of their son, Katharine bitterly vents her anger toward Cal for his apparently moving on and living a full and happy life while her only child is dead.
Mothers and Sons runs through June 27, 2015, at the Topfer Theatre in Austin, TX. Performances are Wednesday – Saturday at 7:30 pm and Sunday at 2:30 pm. For ticket information call 512-476—0541 ext. 1 or go to zachtheatre.org.