Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay


Mothers and Sons
New Conservatory Theatre Center
Review by Richard Connema | Season Schedule

Also see Patrick's recent reviews of Wait Until Dark and Anna in the Tropics and Richard's reviews of Emily Skinner: Broadway, Her Way and Fool for Love


Velina Brown and Andrew Nance
Photo by Lois Tema
New Conservatory Theatre Center is presenting Terrence McNally's Mothers and Sons through April 3rd. I was blown away by this production with a superb cast of four wonderful actors. It is a gratifying, insightful, and sometime humorous production. The play contains brilliant natural dialogue that shows the gay community decades after AIDS killed so so many. Mothers and Sons is a sequel to McNally's 1990 drama Andre's Mother; however, it does not require any knowledge to that prior work.

The plot centers around Katherine (Velina Brown) who has come to New York to pay a surprise visit to her late son's partner Cal (Andrew Nance). Her son Andre died of AIDS decades ago. Cal now lives in a fashionable Upper West Side apartment and is married to Will (Daniel Redmond). They have a young son named Bud (Dash Ferrero). Katherine has not gotten over the fact that her son was gay and that he died of AIDS. She wants answers from Cal and wants to know who caused his death. She says her son was "normal" when he was being raised in Dallas but, after he came to New York at age 18 to pursue a career as an actor, someone turned him gay. Over the course of 90 minutes or so, the two bare their souls to each other, even though no love was lost between them in the past. The last time they met was at Andre's memorial service.

Velina Brown gives a brilliant performance as Katherine, who has a lot of emotional baggage that spills out in monologues and conversations. You can feel her anger across the stage. Andrew Nance is outstanding as Cal. His interactions with Katherine are full of emotion. Their dialogue starts off mannered but quickly shifts to a full-on confrontation of past events.

Daniel Redmond is excellent playing Will, Cal's young and brutally honest husband. His spirited, energetic acting is a perfect balance to Nance's solemn nature. Dash Ferrero (alternating with Aviv D. Drobey) is charming as the 9-year-old Bud. He is a delight to watch on stage with his impulsive and innocent demeanor.

Kuo-Hao Lo has designed a wonderful set of an upscale apartment living room. Director Arturo Catricala once again exhibits his skills in guiding his talented cast. Costumes by Keri Fitch are smart, especially Velina Brown's outerwear.

Mothers and Sons runs through April 3rd, 2016, at the Decker Theatre, New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness Ave off Market Street, San Francisco. For tickets call 415-861-8972 or visit nctcsf.org. Coming up next is J. Conrad Frank in Buyer & Cellar opening on March 18th and running through April 24th.


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