The Tonys will be awarded for the best in Broadway on June 8th, and I have been lucky enough to see several nominated shows and performers. In the coming days and weeks, I will review some of the contenders.
Terrence McNally's newest play, Mothers and Sons, stars the amazing Tyne Daly, whom I have seen in Master Class (Tony nominated) and the concert performance of Ragtime last year. She is a force to reckoned with no matter what role she plays, and she is nominated as Best Actress in a Play for her performance as Kathryn Gerard. The play is also nominated for Best Play.
Kathryn is visiting the apartment of Cal Porter, the man her son loved and lived with at the time of his death twenty years prior at the age of 29. She shows up unannounced, which surprises Cal, played wonderfully by Frederick Weller. His husband, the fifteen years younger Will, (Bobby Steggart) is annoyed. Their six-year-old son, Bud is delighted by the strange woman in their apartment.
We discover that Kathryn's husband died, and she is leaving her home in Dallas (which she hates) to travel to Europe. Kathryn was estranged from her son, an actor, and didn't come to visit even when he was dying from AIDS. This is something Cal can't forgive her for, and their confrontation over this is powerful and emotional.
Kathryn is all alone now, and she rages against whomever gave her son AIDS. She wants revenge, and can't understand how Cal has moved on and replaced her son with another lover, and made himself a new, happy life. She cannot replace her son, he is gone and she will never have another.
Daly is so spectacular in the role. We should despise Kathryn for leaving her son to die, for the mean things she says to Cal. But Daly makes you feel this woman's pain, her loneliness. She knows who she is, someone with no friends, no family, no one to care whether she lives or dies. We don't like Kathryn, and cringe at the things she says, but we still feel her mother's pain.
She mourns that her entire life her identity was as Andre's mother, that no one took the time to know her as Kathryn the woman. When she recounts a late night phone call she made to Andre when she nearly had a one night stand, the audience gasped at her inappropriateness.
Bud asks if Kathryn can be his grandmother since he doesn't have one. This softens her a bit and even though I sat in the rear mezzanine of the theater, you could see the almost minute changes in Daly's face as every emotion Kathryn is feeling crosses her face. It is a tour-de-force performance.
Watching this heartbreaking, powerful, emotional play reminded me of Larry Kramer's play, The Normal Heart. The subject matter is similar, and the emotions it created in the audience were identical. It brought tears to my eyes, and you could hear several audience members sniffling throughout.
Daly is always a contender, and even in a tough field this year, she could definitely win. A win for Mothers and Sons looks good as well.
If you are coming to NYC, I highly recommend Mothers and Sons. There are discount tickets available, but I would pay full price for this one. And if you have HBO, watch The Normal Heart on Sunday, May 25th; it is an experience not to be forgotten.
The website for Mothers and Sons is here.