San Diego, CA---Even though playwright Paul Rudnick wrote his comedy “Regrets Only” in 2006, (directed then by Christopher Ashley now of the La Jolla Playhouse) the subject of gay marriage and friendship that make this comedy spin, is still as controversial (the gay thing, that is) today as it was then.
Since this piece was written, more than 19 states have legalized same sex marriage. More and more of those that have banned it through the ballots are being overturned in the courts. The subject is almost moot, but still that doesn’t take away from the entertainment value considering the talented ensemble and the energy put into their work. The all talented cast is terrific and the topic still rankles.
“Regrets Only” currently making its San Diego premiere at Diversionary Theatre through Sept. 21st is a fast paced, fluffy comedy with some serious business that tests friendship, loyalty, social and political quirkiness and upper class mishegas.
Tibby McCullough (Kerry McCue) and Hank Hadley (Andrew Oswald) could be married to each other, they are that close. He’s a famous fashion designer, gay and is just getting about the social scene again after losing his long time doctor partner. They are planning a night on the town; at seven cocktails, then a fundraiser for multiple amputees, the Mayor’s open house for heart disease, April In Paris Ball for Glaucoma and yadda, yadda yadda!
She is an upper crust Upper Manhattan socialite married to Jack McCullough (Charles Maze) a wealthy and powerful yet conservative attorney in love ‘with his own dazzling eminence’. They have a daughter, Spencer (Rachael VanWormer comes on strong and high strung as a woman of privilege) who is also a lawyer. If she’s not careful she will become her mother’s clone, but with a little more smarts. On this night, she announced her engagement to be married to another of the upper crust élite.
Things get a little sticky when Jack comes into their apartment (designed smartly by Matt Scott) and announces that THE PRESIDENT of the UNITED STATES (read George Bush) called on him as a constitutional law expert to fine tune a potential constitutional amendment … ‘a more workable and ironclad definition of legal marriage… between a man and a woman’. It’s a big night all around for Spencer, Jack and Hank. And that’s just before the ‘you know what hit the fan’.
Jack doesn’t see anything wrong with submitting to the president’s wish to go to Washington to work on the wording, Spencer is OK with the Defense of Marriage Act but is willing to hear both sides and as for Tibby, “Don’t put your mother on the spot, you know she doesn’t really understand anything legal”, advises Jack. That misnomer will get settled by plays end.
Hank, who sits on the fence about marriage, gay or otherwise, does a slow burn just thinking that his closest friends would ever entertain or think that his rights and his pursuit of happiness as an equal should be up for discussion. In his own inimitable way, he pulls a fast one that just about paralyzes their world to show his good friends how valuable his domain is to them. This little caper about takes the cake, bringing home some of the funniest, shrewd and sharp-witted lines in the entire show.
Jessica John, whose radiant personality spreads sunshine ‘all over the place’, is the perfect choice to direct this funny yet sentimental take on a serious topic that barely dances around the tip of the iceberg. She has a good sense of the satire in this piece. Her timing and zip keep the pace at such a high level of hysteria that it’s tough keeping up, but fun nonetheless.
Kerry McCue, a transplant from Phoenix, is at the top of her game as the least likely yet pivotal character everyone turns to for the final word. She gets what the others fail to understand, that if ‘gay people want to marry—let um learn’! She’s funny, sexy, looks beautiful in Alina Bokovikova’s gowns and is a perfect match as Andrew Oswald’s foil and best friend. Oswald, for his part is funny, somber and honest to the core as he reminisces about his past relationships. I did see a few tears being shed the day I attended. Oswald is also elegant looking in his fashionable wardrobe.
Charles Maze is charming and brims with an ego that doesn’t end and he does it well. Teri Brown is the ‘Jewish’ maid played with a handful of accents and gusto that brought the house down on several occasions but it is Dagmar Krause Fields as Marietta Claypool, Tibby’s off the wall mother who has some of the best lines in the play. She is an over the top funny and fun woman to boot! Rudnick runs the gambit on the New York mind set to the laugh out loud savvy theatre crowd. This production also brings out a different side to Ms. Fields never before seen by this reviewer. She is a hoot!
Why it matters to some outside their own inner circle, of who marries whom, will always boggle my mind. In the scheme of things, gay marriage has so little impact on most of our lives, that it is almost a non-starter. Chicken Little, the sky has not fallen! It is after all a civil matter.
Those whose married lives it does impact have things under control. Trust me. My daughter and daughter in law and grandson, their friends and friend’s friends have their lives so together that they could start a movement. Oh, wait! They are the movement.
See you at the theatre.
Dates: Through Sept. 21st
Organization: Diversionary Theatre
Production Type: Comedy
Where: 4545 Park Blvd. San Diego, CA92116
Ticket Prices: $25.00-$50.00