Latter-Gay Saints

Carol Lynn Pearson's gay Mormon drama sets the static and the fluid in bold opposition. Unfortunately, the static wins out.

The stolid stance of the drama is further exacerbated by the repetitive nature of the conversations. Ruth and Alex spend most of their time on stage talking in circles. Their arguments inch forward incrementally and at times, not at all. The acting also contributes to the unmovable atmosphere. All three actors give controlled, subtle performances, but they remain the same from beginning to end. Alex's pain is irreversibly etched on actor Charles Lynn Frost's body and face. His puffy eyes are weak and watery. He hunches his bearish frame. His big hands hang limply at his sides like broken clock pendulums. But time clearly won't heal his wounds. He remains in that posture throughout the play. Jayne Luke's Ruth wears her grief differently, but it's just as permanent. Her inner confusion and turmoil bubble to the surface, constantly threatening to crack that proud, Mormon poise. Marcus, played by Jay Perry, spends most of his time on stage wearing a sad smile.

The prevailing uniformity has two effects. It makes what should be a tight, 75-minute play feel like it lasts much longer. More fundamentally, it undermines Pearson's attempts to present a better world — one in which high-ranking members of the Mormon Church not only accept a gay couple into their fold, but bless them, too.

Jayne Luke and Charles Lynn Frost play a Mormon couple who lost their gay son to suicide.
Julie Stark
Jayne Luke and Charles Lynn Frost play a Mormon couple who lost their gay son to suicide.

Ultimately, of the play's two battling forces, constancy — sticking to the traditional beliefs no matter what — wins out. This spells bad news for anyone trying to be both gay and Mormon in Utah. Which brings us back to Romney. Facing East suggests that there might be more to the Mormon Church's desire to distance itself from the presidential candidate than fiscal disgrace. Change is a frightening concept. Better to steer clear of a flip-flopper. Who knows when he might make his next about-face?

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