THE IMPOSTERS

 

A review by Mary Couzens for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

 

Steven M Levy, Sean Sweeney and MB Productions in association with Charing Cross Theatre present

 

The West End premiere of the Off Broadway hit

 

Confessions of A Mormon Boy

 

 

Written and Performed by Steven Fales

 

Based on original direction by Jack Hofsiss

 

Charing Cross Theatre

 

5 – 24 September 2010

 


In many ways, autobiographical, one man play Confessions of a Mormon Boy is as American as apple pie, with its off the cuff self-help and Biblical references, coming of age theme and being who you were meant to be, scandal generating scenarios. Last but certainly not least, inadvertently perhaps, it seems to reflect on the U.S. of A’s society through its’ crumbling All American façades relating to propriety and, masculinity.  

As he re-enacts the leg of his story in which he comes out, Steven Fales cleverly refers to himself an Oxy-Mormon, adding "While most boys my age wanted to be Donny and marry Marie, I wanted to marry Donny and be Marie."  The award winning, much acclaimed Off Broadway show that emerged from his initial, confessionary comedy routine in New York, now looks to conquer London with its winning, cross over ways.

From the first, seemingly colligate Fales convinces us that he is indeed, the Mormon Boy he once, in reality was - upstanding, obliging and, above all, smiling. It’s quickly apparent however, that he was always different from the herd, as he chose to be an actor – not only an insecure career path, but one often fraught with temptations, in his case pressurized by the fact that he was then, a self-acknowledged, but nonetheless closet, gay man. We’ll ‘cure’ you. the Mormon bishops assured him, and following his subsequent excommunication from the Church of Latter Day Saints, Steven took his first steps towards becoming his true self via the inevitable end of his initially valued marriage to a good Mormon girl which resulted in two beloved children, followed by months of self-abuse leading to realization and true, seasoned manhood far from Utah in NYC.

That may sound like a grim journey, but it isn’t, as Fales injects lots of humour along the way, briefly playing his female therapist, zealous Mormon bishop and other individuals pivotal to his story, as they interact with his younger self, at times, with hilarious results. On the flip side, we’re also privy to some of the inner workings of Steve, as Fales calls himself, via his more reflective and/or anguished dimensions as well, rounding things off to form a full, compelling picture. Sure there are some ‘gay’ moments, in which Steve, in escort mode, interacts with clients when he’s at his low down and dirtiest, but Fales manages to infuse even his character’s tawdrier interactions with a sense of the humanity and humour beneath his toned, money making machinations. The fact that he remains fully clothed during these very physical scenes enables audiences to get a sense of their motivation and impetus, rather than simply view them as cheap and gratuitous. When I was there, they allowed much cryptic laughter of recognition.

There is no set here, apart from a clothes horse and a bench, but none is really needed, as this is all about the retelling (and reliving) of Fales’ life story. The script is very well written and thought out, and even if it has been lived and relived many times, its contents don’t seem stale – a testament to Fale’s ability to re-enact the episodes for us. Its’ truth is its strong suit.

Sound is a pivotal element of this show - a voice Fales says is his own as a child sings and talks at crucial moments, standing in for the lost innocence of youth, which is very affecting. And he intermittently sings snippets of various songs relating to memories, some with new lyrics, as he tells of Broadway job-hunting, falling in and out of love and struggling to be who he really is inside – something we can all identify with. Steve’s voice is strong and clear, like his re-enacting.

Though a gay English audience member told me after the show that he’d found it engaging, but thought it ‘too up front’, to me, it takes a healthy, open minded approach to barrier busting. For as Steve bravely exposes his low points, we must admit (even if only to ourselves) that we’ve had our fair share of dips too, which, allows a sense of his ‘post-confessional’ catharsis.

When I spoke to Steve Fales briefly after the play, he said he’d like to bring the next two shows in his trilogy (of which Mormon Boy is the first) to London. We hope he does.  

 

Box Office: 020 7907 7075 (Booking fee applies)
Monday - Saturday at 8.00pm
Charing Cross Theatre
(formerly New Players Theatre)
The Arches,
Villiers Street
London WC2N 6NL
Tickets: All seats £15.00
 
www.charingcrosstheatre.co.uk
(Booking fee applies)
In person: Charing Cross Theatre
(No booking fee applies)
http://www.mormonboy.com/confessions.shtml
 
 

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