Category Archive for: ‘Steve Murray’
Everything That’s Beautiful. Drama, Written by Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder. Directed by Ed Decker. New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA.
Fresh off 2016’s Growing Up Coy , a documentary highlighting a Colorado family’s fight for transgender bathroom rights, comes Elyzabeth Greogory Wilder’s thoughtful and timely examination of the family perspective of coming to grips with a transgender child. When 8 year old Morgan burns the genitals off all his GI Joe action figures and attempts the same emasculation on himself, his parents Luke and Jess must deal with the ramifications of allowing him to live as a girl. The after effects of their decision will rip the family apart and cause deep introspection on all concerned.
Luke (William Giammona) and his wife Jess (Dana Zook) move from the home in Pennsylvania to escape the scrutiny, rejection and outright condemnation heaped upon them when cute little Morgan (Mattea Fountain) begins to cross-dress. Uprooting the family and moving to Greenpoint, NY has its own innate complications. Teenager Theo (Nick Moore) is at that petulant stage, annoyed at the distress his new sister has caused, and feeling ignored. Jess, a teacher by trade, gets a job in a lunch counter while hubby Luke works as a mechanic/handyman at a run-down waterpark.
Morgan is blissfully unaware of the mounting tensions in the family, only wanting to emulate the beautiful mermaid in a tank she sees at Luke’s jobsite. Fountain is wonderful as the naïve child, confident in her new gender assignment. Luke is a macho man, drinking his Pub Beer and uncomfortable with the loss of his son and inability to relate to a new daughter. He’s absent at the therapy sessions to the chagrin of Jess. Both parents literally flirt with danger: Luke nuzzles up to Gaby (April Deutschle) the mermaid, while Mom is pretending she’s unmarried with cute, Conservative book reader Will (Tim Huls).
Theo catches his dad kissing Gaby and while the two are absent, little Morgan nearly drowns in the pool. Jess is less shocked at the betrayal than with his abandonment of Morgan. The two split. Gaby moves onto her boyfriend and Jess fesses up to Will and can’t take the next step to infidelity. The family is in total breakdown mode until Luke realized that losing Morgan is an unacceptable price to pay. There’s a glimmer of hope in a beautiful ending where Morgan realizes her mermaid dream.
Devin Kasper’s soothing wavelike set is lit beautifully by Virginia Herbert’s aqua themed blues and greens. The gentle sounds of the water are overlaid by Sara Witsch. Director Ed Decker has drawn the most of his cast; Dan Zook nurturing patience and concern, Nick Moore’s desperate insolence, to Mattea Fountain’s sweet self-determination. Everything That’s Beautiful faithfully illuminates the deep emotional burdens of a family in transition- some make it through to the other side, unfortunately, many do not. Wilder’s script and NCTCs production make for a heartwarming world premiere.
Performances run through April 23, 2017 www.nctcsf.org 415.861.8972