New York and Connecticut theater reviews and news

New York City Theater

"Confessions of a Mormon Boy"
Soho Playhouse, NY

The aptly named "Confessions of a Mormon Boy" details Steven Fales' journey from orthodoxy to hedonism to acceptance. The tale of a religious, former missionary who finds, to his horror, that he is "gender-disoriented" (i.e. homosexual), swings from poignant to harrowing. It's a familiar story that, while, compelling in its details, lacks the kind of distancing insight and character development that would give it more weight.

The strapping Fales, who wrote the 90-minute one-hander, is an engaging actor-singer with a mega smile. It is that smile, actually, that acts as metaphor for his travails, coming and going as he recounts his failed marriage, his remunerative but sordid life as an "escort," and his eventual emergence from the darkness.

Fales tries everything to tamp down his gay feelings. His marriage to a woman whose father died of AIDS produces two beloved children, he goes to reparative therapy, sees a clinical hypno-therapist, finally takes some sort of course in which he finds "what it means to have integrity, to be authentic and profoundly human."

Before he can make peace with himself and, more importantly, with his father, he must emerge from the shadow of an unfeeling church which goes so far as to excommunicate him. In the evening's most shocking moment, he literally and figuratively removes an impediment to his true self.

There's something stiff and robotic about this evening. Although Fales is charming, telling his tale with humor and stamina, he and director Jack Hofsiss only occasionally engage us emotionally and the tale, for all its horror, remains remote.

-- David A. Rosenberg
Feb. 11, 2006

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