Brad Fraser's 2008 drama concerns a nuclear family coming apart at the seams when a couple's children learn that, prior to marriage, dad had a serious relationship with another man. That tantalizing premise makes it possible for the playwright to ask the big questions about how intimately our identity is bound up in our sexual orientation and the ways we regard sex in general.
The text is a knowing combination of cynicism, wry humor and penetrating insights into human nature, and the acting styles of director Dave Barton's cast members mesh well, supporting Fraser's ideas while adding their own shadings. Anthony B. Cohen's dad, Kane, clearly feels adrift, completely at a loss as to how to handle the seismic shifts rending his family. As his wife, Jill Cary Martin is searching for answers, especially those that may explain Kane's feelings, past and present, for ex-lover David. Sabrina Zellars and Christopher Basile are no less laudable as 21-year-old Madison and 17-year-old Royce, Zellars exuding confidence to spare and Basile crafting a portrait of a teen in crisis.
While the entire quintet of actors delivers work that's honest and real, it's Rick Kopps as David who's a clear standout. Through his layered portrayal, we see the complexities of a gay man who at one time knew exactly what he wanted yet now can no longer be sure. In the role, Kopps is graceful, witty, urbane, sarcastic and pragmatic. His David is also the only character with the guts and integrity to own up to who he is.
Basile and Alexander Price's chic minimalist set design, Price's costumes and Barton's Mozart-infused underscoring complete the effect. Monkey Wrench's production is an ensemble effort in every respect and a must-see for devotees of the art of theater.
Presented by and at Monkey Wrench Collective, 204 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton. July 9–Aug. 14. Thu.–Sat., 8 p.m. (800) 838-3006. www.monkeywrenchcollective.org.