Actors in Uptown Players' The Temperamentals Add Heat to Tepid Script

Theater Caps are bite-sized punch-packing capsule reviews by resident theater critic Elaine Liner. Use them as a reminder -- or a teaser, if you procrastinate -- of her full-length reviews in The Mixmaster's weekly sister.

Thanks to some fine acting, the dry civics class taught by Jon Marans' play The Temperamentals comes vividly to life in the Uptown Players' production at Kalita Humphreys Theater. Actor Gregory Lush, in the lead as 1950s gay activist Harry Hay, and his co-stars Montgomery Sutton, Daylon Walton, Paul J. Williams and Kevin Moore illuminate a talky script, giving terrific performances all around.

Hay, a teacher and member of the Communist Party, founded the Mattachine Society, a short-lived but important post-WWII organization in Hollywood that fought for LGBT rights many years before the Stonewall riots.

In an era in which gay men were afraid that any public display of affection -- or affectation -- could get them arrested and blacklisted, Hay and his lover, fashion designer Rudi Gernreich (played by Sutton), tried to convince closeted gays to come out and demand respect.

The play gets bogged down by endless paragraphs of exposition -- the whole topic might better be addressed in a documentary, not a stageplay -- but this episode in gay civil rights history is worth discovering through this production.

Directed and designed by Bruce R. Coleman to look like a black and white film (the one splash of color comes at the end), The Temperamentals is a well-acted history lesson.

The Temperamentals continues through October 23 at Uptown Players, Kalita Humphreys Theater. Box office, 214-219-2718.

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