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Daniel’s Husband

Michael McKeever’s play about a same sex couple who choose not to get married returns to Off Broadway and seems more relevant that ever.

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Lou Liberatore, Matthew Montelongo, Ryan Spahn and Leland Wheeler in a scene from “Daniel’s Husband” (Photo credit: Carol Rosegg)

Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief

Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief

Architect Daniel and novelist Mitchell appear to be the perfect couple who have it all: successful careers, beautiful home, good friends, and a seven-year loving relationship. They are the envy of their friends who we meet at a party, Barry who is Mitchell’s agent and best friend, and his latest boyfriend, the much younger Trip. Barry’s promiscuous lifestyle, continually changing boyfriends too young for him, is a contrast to Daniel and Mitchell’s deeply committed life. However, there is a fly in the ointment in their seemingly perfect life.

Mitchell does not believe in gay marriage. He believes that commitment should be enough and that a piece of paper or a public ceremony should not be needed. Daniel, however, wants very much to be married now that they can. Nevertheless, they have gone about all the paperwork for each other’s health care surrogate but they haven’t gotten around to having them notarized.

Matthew Montelongo and Ryan Spahn in a scene from “Daniel’s Husband” (Photo credit: Carol Rosegg)

In point of fact, Daniel’s next of kin is his mother Lydia, a sophisticated widow with too much time on her hands who Daniel describes as “a well-intentioned monster.” She is the sort of woman who wanting to be with-it and up-to-date says to Mitchell when she visits, “You look good, you put on weight,” and in meeting Barry for the first time blurts out, “You’re the one who drinks too much and dates all the young boys.” All is well until an unforeseen episode occurs which affects all of the characters.

What begins as light comedy in Michael McKeever’s well-made play Daniel’s Husband becomes deadly serious in this cautionary tale. If the plot seems familiar, this is a return engagement of a successful play that appeared at the Cherry Lane Theatre in April 2017. The same engaging and proficient cast returns and while designer Brian Prather remains the same, the costume and lighting designers are now different. The play has been tweaked a bit but you will probably not notice if you have seen it before. It still packs an emotional wallop in the way events turn out.

Matthew Montelongo and Ryan Spahn in a scene from “Daniel’s Husband” (Photo credit: Carol Rosegg)

As the rock-solid, unwavering Mitchell, Matthew Montelongo runs the gamut of emotions. Ryan Spahn who we see less is an appealing Daniel who has never been able to tell his mother the truth about their relationship. Lou Liberatore adds a sort of vulnerability to Barry who is unable to settle down but is a very strong, supportive friend. Anna Holbrook captures both the charming side of Daniel’s mother as well as the overbearing and self-centered side to Lydia. Leland Wheeler is amusing as the 23-year-old Trip who is both callow and green when it comes to general culture as are many in his generation.

Prather’s minimalist, architectural setting remains attractive in an artistic way. Gregory Gale’s contemporary clothing is both becoming and color-coordinated. The subtle lighting by Jeff Croiter is perfectly suitable for the story. While same-sex relationships have been explored elsewhere, Daniel’s Husband is probably the first time that it has been dealt with where we see the consequences of two gay men in a long term relationship not getting married. If you have not seen it previously, it is both entertaining and provocative.

Daniel’s Husband (through December 30, 2018)

Ted Snowden Productions

Primary Stages

Westside Theatre/Upstairs, 407 W. 43rd Street, in Manhattan

For tickets, call 212-239-6200 or visit http://www.danielshusband.com

Running time: one hour and 35 minutes with no intermission

Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief
About Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief (553 Articles)
Victor Gluck was a drama critic and arts journalist with Back Stage from 1980 – 2006. He started reviewing for TheaterScene.net in 2006, where he was also Associate Editor from 2011-2013, and has been Editor-in-Chief since 2014. He is a voting member of The Drama Desk, the Outer Critics Circle, the American Theatre Critics Association, and the Dramatists Guild of America. His plays have been performed at the Quaigh Theatre, Ryan Repertory Company, St. Clements Church, Nuyorican Poets Café and The Gene Frankel Playwrights/Directors Lab.

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