STANDING ON CEREMONY: THE GAY MARRIAGE PLAYS is a highly entertaining, often moving ninety-minute collection of nine short plays on gay marriage written by eight distinguished writers (Mo Gaffney, Jordan Harrison, Moises Kaufman, Neil LaBute, Wendy MacLeod, Jose Rivera, Paul Rudnick (2), and Doug Wright) performed by a cast of six excellent actors. Doug Wright's "On Facebook" and Paul Rudnick's "The Gay Agenda" (performed hilariously by the incomparable Harriet Harris) are amusing satires on the people who find gay marriage threatening. Jordan Harrison's "The Revision," Wendy MacLeod's "The Flight Tonight," Mo Gaffney's "A Traditional Wedding" and Jose Rivera's lovely, poetic "Pablo and Andrew at the Altar of Words" focus on wedding preparation and ceremonies. Neil LaBute's "Strange Fruit" and Moises Kaufman's "London Mosquitos" (a heartbreaking performance by Richard Thomas) are about the loss of loved ones. "The weakest, though amusing, is Paul Rudnick's Jewish-mother-with-a-gay-son skit, "My Husband," another vehicle for Ms. Harris.
The plays are performed more or less as readings, but the cast is so masterful that one doesn't miss the usual trappings of scenery and costumes. Harriet Harris plays her monster mothers brilliantly. Polly Draper and Beth Leavel make a touching couple. Richard Thomas shows once again that he is one of America's best actors. Craig Bierko and Mark Consuelos are also fine.
Of course, in New York the show is preaching to the choir. The producers are aware that it needs to be seen in places where gay marriage is still an issue.
STANDING ON CEREMONY: THE GAY MARRIAGE PLAYS. Minetta Lane Theatre. December 18, 2011.