Recommended **** About Face Theatre’s new production of “The Temperamentals” is an intense docudrama about the founding of the Mattachine Society, one of the earliest LBGT organizations in America. Five talented actors play real men, who came out of the closet at a time when society was hostile to homosexuals. Jon Marans has written an intelligent but unemotional script, about five brave people. 3 ½ Spotlights.
I think I had a hard time relating to “The Temperamentals” because it just wasn’t relevant. I think I felt the same way when I saw a play about women’s suffrage a couple of years ago Things have changed so much and so rapidly for gays that the Mattachine Society has become a footnote.
When I was in college in the ‘60s, I learned that many of my male friends were gay – although they didn’t call themselves gay then. Although some were out, most hid their sexuality. In fact, I was shocked when I found out that some were even married. It must have been even worse in the rigid ‘50s.
One day, Harry Hay (Kyle Hatley) had an encounter with a younger man, Rudy Gernreich (Lane Anthony Flores). While they were falling in love, Harry was writing “The Call”, a proposal for an organization to protect homosexual rights. Although he tried to recruit people for his new organization, he was unsuccessful.
Bob Hull (Alex Weisman) broke off a relationship with Chuck Rowland (Rob Lindley). One day, his new love interest, Dale Jennings (Paul Fagen), a blue collar worker, was arrested and charged for lewd behavior when he’d done nothing wrong. Rather than plead guilty and pay a fine, the norm at the time, the Mattachine Society members encouraged Dale to fight the charges which amounted to police harassment.
Staging was simple but effective. A series of sliding panels which could be easily reconfigured into new positions, with the addition of some chairs, became multiple locations.
at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago.
Running time is 2 hours, 15 minutes, with an intermission.
Performances are Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 pm
Sunday at 3:00 pm.
Tickets are $40 for adults, $20 for students and seniors. Valet parking is available on weekends. FYI (773) 975-8150 or www.aboutfacetheatre.com
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “The Tempermentals”