“Powerful, Moving, Timely And Our Future Is – “8”!”
Written By Lorenzo Marchessi
Dustin Lance Black wrote of wonderful dramatization regarding the start of the June 16th trial that the “Marriage Equality” people prevented the rest of the nation from seeing live for fear of its impact. In a last minute appeal, they won and what was left is the all too public accessible transcripts of what actually happened and what was actually said. The original play opened on Broadway to sold out houses back in 2011 and has been touring the country ever since.
Giselle Boustani Fontenele, here at The Avery Schreiber Theatre in North Hollywood, did an absolutely wonderful direction of this staged reading of the start of the downfall and eventual demise of what is known as “Proposition 8”. “8”, the play, highlights the actual dialogue from the transcripts that put two sets of gay couples and their families on trial in order to justify the rights and privileges given to opposite sex parents but not the LGBT community.
The cast itself has 22 characters (portraying real people) and I would highlight some of the standout performances of the entirely amazing company of actors who each and every one of the them did a superb job.
Lizanne Keigley plays Maggie Gallagher, the overly zealous pro Prop 8 advocate who yells, screams and doesn’t listen to anyone else and it was played so well by Lizanne that I just wanted to get up out of my seat and beat the living daylights out of her. She was so colorful and that good!
Bill Arnold III plays David Blankenhorn the marriage “expert” who does so much denying and babbling and double talk you will be amazed at how the judge even let him on the stand as a witness. David does an amazing job of tripping over his own words, being tongue tied and completely out of his comfort zone.
Kris Perry played by Michelle Annette Craft and Sandy Stier played by Audrey Harris both did an amazing job at playing the lesbian couple brought into court to prove their love, not only their love for each other but for their two children Spencer Perry played by Jason Herman and Elliot Perry played by Erica Nugent who both made you feel a real sense of hurt, love and above all a distraught family. They are a family who is literally being persecuted in a public court of law with no shame or sense of unity from their opponents. Michaell, Audrey, Erica and Jason really connect and make us believe love conquers all!
The lawyers for the Plantiffs, Theodore Olson is played by Marci Urling and David Boies is wonderfully played by Linda Nile. Marci delivers her lines with such clarity and sharpness and Linda proves her intelligence and clever guard of the facts as her sharp weapon against those who would treat LGBT citizens of the US as 2nd class (or even 3rd class) citizens.
A really personal and impressive performance from Gavin Fonesca as Ryan Kendall a boy who was condemned by his parents and sent to a therapist who was supposed to reprogram his ‘Gayness” out of him. Ryan give an intense and person interpretation that will just make you sick to your stomach at the concepts people have out in the “real” world about the homosexual community.
Charles Cooper the lawyer for the defense, the bad guy – nemesis, was skillfully played by Irwin Moskowitz who slowly loses his composure as he realizes he has no case, viable witnesses and nothing to prove that same sex people will harm children or heterosexuals if the marry each other. Irwin plays egg-on-his-face very well. As does a nice performance from Bohannon Orr as Paul Katami who is one of the partners who original brought Prop 8 on trial! His energy and passion make you understand that now, even in the 21st century there is still discrimination and civil rights corruption going on all over the nation. Mary Newsome plays the clerk and she reads her statements and facts with compassion and clarity that it will be hard to forget the facts that unfold before your eyes.
The rest of the cast Bette Smith as Judge Walker, Larson Chalk as Jeff Zarillo, Patty Sherman as Evan Wolfson, Lucy Unanyan as the Broadcast Journalist, Petra Lo as Dr. Herek and Tomo Kawaguchi as Dr. William Tam all did a wonderful job reenacting what would later change history and American Politics forever.
Following the play there was a wonderfully insightful, passionate, personal and educational talk-back with Dr. Richard Follett on the subject matter, the trial, the audience’s opinions and things that lead up and beyond Prop 8. It was supposed to be 20 minutes and lasted 45. Most production do this talk-balk after the show and please make sure you stay. You only run the risk of learning something you may have never known before.
If you want to learn about our political system and the wheels of justice (and how ever so slow they move), then you should take every opportunity to see this production, whenever and wherever you can. Check it out at the American Foundation for Equal Rights website! Bravo director Giselle Boustani Fontenele, it was wonderful!