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Jon Marans' "The Temperamentals"at New World Stages
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Jon Marans' "The Temperamentals"at New World Stages

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Daryl Roth, Stacy Shane, Martian Entertainment
The Temperamentals
(The Temperamentals Website)
(Read about The Mattachine Society)

By Jon Marans
Directed by Jonathan Silverstein
New World Stages
(New World Stages Website)

Starring: Thomas Jay Ryan, Vince Gatton, Arnie Burton,
Matthew Schneck, Sam Breslin Wright

Talk Back with US Congressman Barney Frank
(Barney Frank Congressional Website)

Scenic & Costume Design: Clint Ramos
Lighting Design: Josh Bradford
Sound Design: Daniel Kluger
Casting: Stephanie Klapper Casting
Production Manager: Shannon Case
Associate Producer: Alexander Fraser
Company Manager: Kyle Provost
Marketing: HHC Marketing
Graphic Design: Adrian Sie
Production Stage Manager: Tom Taylor
General Manager: Adam Hess

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 2, 2010

Itís 1950ís Los Angeles, time and place of the birth of the Mattachine Society, a human-rights organization for gay males, loosely connected to the Communist Party. Five actors portray two leads, Harry Hay (Thomas Jay Ryan) and Rudi Gernreich (Vince Gatton), as well as Chuck Rowland (Arnie Burton), Bob Hull (Matthew Schneck), Dale Jennings (Sam Breslin Wright), and additional secondary characters. The stage is spartan, bare walls and chairs, and the men dress in suits. Hay is Protestant, married, and seemingly conventional, and Gernreich is Jewish-Viennese, a costume designer for MGM, surrounded by Hollywood divas. Itís obvious that Hay and Gernreich are lovers, with their body language subtle and the space between them crackling. Throughout Jon Maransí two Acts, actors face and address the audience, breaking through the fourth wall, drawing us into the tension and torment of these characters trapped in dual lives.

Hay has the Manifesto, the kernel of the Society, and verbal communication between its growing band of rebels is coded in surreptitious design. When the characters present a communal monologue of egregious hardships, pain is implicit, but never proclaimed. Inner turmoil appears and disappears as time takes its toll, and Mr. Wright, as Dale Jennings, has some of the most compelling scenes. Vince Gatton, as Gernreich, was substituting for Michael Urie, and his stature and expressions make him almost a double for Rock Hudson, a twist of irony. Hay, Gernreich, Rowland, and Hull are all elegant and distinguished. Itís Jennings thatís coarse on the edges, but heís persuasively vulnerable, as he confronts the external society and the limitations of the era. When Hay throws a crimson scarf on his suit, his face lights up the stage more brightly than his accessory. Heís crossed the line, and he loves it. Jonathan Silverstein directs with attention to subtle body language and slight gesture, those communicative tricks relied on by these historical friends. A quick glance, a touch of the hand or foot, an entrance or exit, could each signify pleasure, anger, or a plan in the works.

I stayed for the Talk Back, especially to see Barney Frank, longtime Congressman from my home state of Massachusetts. Congressman Frank spoke of his own struggles with gay identity and his work on The Hill for equality rights. He added personal anecdotes as well, that revealed his humor and dynamism. Kudos to Jon Marans and New World Stages for this informative and transporting evening at the theatre.

Sam Breslin Wright and
Matthew Schneck in
"The Temperamentals"
Courtesy of Eliza Brown

Congressman Barney Frank
and Playwright Jon Marans
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

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