GAY's the word mum
PUBLISHED: 17:18 23 July 2008 | UPDATED: 17:30 16 August 2010
JEFFREY Solomon s one-man show Mother/Son at the New End Theatre, Hampstead, may have been about a young Jewish man coming out, but the real thrust of the play -
JEFFREY Solomon's one-man show Mother/Son at the New End Theatre, Hampstead, may have been about a young Jewish man coming out, but the real thrust of the play - and what made it such a memorable piece of drama - was its emphasis on how his mother coped with the situation, writes Mark Campbell.
In a series of brilliantly performed monologues, Solomon alternated between Bradley and his mother, Mindy, as they talked, sometimes argued - usually on long-distance 'phone calls - about his gay lifestyle, his boyfriends and her own feelings in coming to terms with his sexuality.
Written and performed by Solomon (with Shahar Kazara producing), Mother/Son is semi-autobiographical and was inspired by his mother's support for him when he himself came out in the 1990s.
And like Bradley looking in the mirror at the end and seeing his own mother looking back at him, Mother/Son keeps the memory of Solomon's deceased mother alive.
His love for her shines through every word, although the script is satisfyingly unsentimental.
Solomon plays Mindy as a slightly comic figure, but full of warmth and humanity. "How do you know you are gay?" she asks quizzically. "If you've never had sexual intercourse with a girl, how do you know you wouldn't prefer it?"
The re-enactment of her first support group meeting (with Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, a real organisation) was an exquisite juxtaposition of discomfiture and humour.
Pacing around a tiny stage dressed with a bare minimum of furnishings, Solomon's conversations with various non-existent protagonists gave the impression of a far larger cast than just the one.
AIDS is mentioned in passing, but thankfully this is not an issues-based play, or one deliberately designed to shock - controversial it is not.
Instead, it's a finely wrought celebration of a mother's love for her son and the lengths she will go in order to stand up for him, and against unthinking prejudice.
It will have particular resonance for parents of gay children, but its life-affirming message of unconditional love is surely universal.
* The next productions at the New End Theatre, Hampstead, are Halpern & Johnson by Lionel Goldstein and Confessions Of A Mormon Boy by Steven Fales. Tickets: 0870 033 2733.