Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays
It's easy to watch Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays and wonder: Is this a stage production…or a pro-social campaign? But truthfully, it's not one or the other. Standing on Ceremony — a zippy collection of nine short, one-act plays by such writing luminaries as Neil LaBute (Fat Pig), Moisés Kaufman (33 Variations), and Paul Rudnick (The Stepford Wives) — is both. It's just as much a theater experience as it is a crusade to illuminate the precarious, confusing, maddening, and — yes — oftentimes hilarious position that gays and lesbians find themselves in when it comes to getting hitched legally in the United States.
A rotating cast — including everyone from Queer as Folk‘s Peter Paige and Better Off Ted‘s Jay Harrington to The Hangover‘s Rachael Harris and That Thing You Do!‘s Tom Everett Scott — brings the show to life on a simple, prop-less stage on various Mondays through June at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center's Renberg Theatre. One of the strengths of the plays is how they vary, offering you a glimpse into a wide swath of situations affected by gay marriage. The show launches with Jordan Harrison's hilarious "The Revision," which features a gay couple revising the traditional marriage vows to suit their tastes and the restrictions put on them by the law (hence their use of "lawfully civil unioned"). The most riotous segment is certainly "On Facebook," which writer Doug Wright cribbed from a discussion thread on the popular social networking site. It's poignant because you've no doubt seen a similar debate before, and the embracing of Facebook's quirks makes it feel very contemporary. Another showstopper is Paul Rudnick's "The Gay Agenda," a fiery monologue by an aging woman, Mary, who feels that the gays are taking everything away from her and she's not going to allow them to take marriage, too.
The fact is that all nine of the plays are well-done — none of them falls flat or feels out of place in the mix. But that's not to say that the production is entirely perfect. Predictably, the plays tend to over-represent gay men and under-represent lesbians. Also, the plays paint opponents of gay marriage as ignorant — while that's unfair, of course, no one in the audience of Standing is likely to take issue. The best part of Standing is the sheer joy that exudes from the production. Despite the fact that it's bringing a real issue to light, the show maintains a buoyancy and hopefulness that's infectious. All nine of the plays elicited lots of laughs — even Moisés Kaufman's "London Mosquitoes," which is basically a eulogy — and that shows you just what the fight for marriage equality is all about: love. B+