Twilight of the Golds

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Leshansky and Miller star in the play.

Wagner would be proud. This riff on his famous Ring Cycle, with a subtle changing of the name from Twilight of the Gods to Twillight of the Golds, is being performed to great effect at The Stage Door Theatre in Coral Springs.

Even though Jonathan Tolins' play saw its stage debut 20 years ago, it is even more topical now that the technology of genetic engineering is beginning to mature. Back then the featured couple, extremely well played with depth of character by Sarah Miller and Jeffrey Leshansky, were grappling with information available to very few - what their baby was likely going to be when it was born.

In this case the verdict was devastating. It was not going to be deformed, and it had all 10 fingers and 10 toes. No, it was much worse than that - it was almost certainly going to be a gay boy!!!

While acceptance of the gay reality is much more prevalent now, there is certainly no lack of blinkered bigots today who would find the idea just as troublesome as it was in 1993.

James HesseJames HesseWhile the parents, Walter and Suzanne, have the ultimate decision to make, the rest of the Jewish family of the Golds play their critical roles in the outcome. First and foremost is Suzanne's brother David. Somehow it seems appropriate that the big-brother character, who naturally is gay, is played by a drop-dead gorgeous actor named James Hesse who got his acting degree from Nebraska Wesleyan University.

The cast is rounded out by Suzanne's parents played by Phyllis Spears and Larry Bramble. Those who attended performances at Stage Door last year will remember Spears in the darling play Six Dances in Six Weeks (which was reviewed by me in the Sun News Miami). At that time she had her arm in a sling, but now she is recovered and we all welcome her back. Her acting skllis here are nicely attuned to the script of the meddling Jewish mother, and the father figure is played with all the old-style gruffness you might expect. Perfect casting and flawless acting.

The only trouble is with the script itself. If Suzanne was so close to her gay brother all those years, why is she torn about having a gay son? It doesn't track, and their angst-ridden conversation in Act 2 really does nothing to resolve the conflict. One can only conclude her supposedly close relationship with David was a sham.

"Why are you erasing me? I thought you loved me!" David cries as Suzanne contemplates an abortion. "Do you have any idea how horrifying this is?"

"Don't play the martyr," Suzanne shoots back. "You're still a mystery to me."

Bramble and Spear star as the Jewish parentsBramble and Spear star as the Jewish parentsAs David says at the shattering conclusion to the play, "every human being is a tapestry." What happens when you pull one thread becomes obvious.

I thought the final uplifting soliloquy delivered by Hesse (as David) was reminiscent in tone of the one that ends my favourite movie of all time, Things To Come (1936). That he can bring such emotion to such a script certainly bodes well for a bright future in acting.

Twilight of the Golds continues through Oct. 27, and should not be missed. Visit their website





Clifford Cunningham

Clifford Cunningham is a planetary scientist currently affiliated with the National Astronomical Research Institute. He did his PhD work in the history of astronomy at James Cook University, and has undergraduate degrees in science and ancient history from the University of Waterloo. He is the author of 12 books on asteroids and the history of science. In 1999 he appeared on the TV show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Asteroid 4276 was named in his honour by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in 1990.

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