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.
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.
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
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