'Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays' at LA Gay & Lesbian Center

Peter Paige, John Rubinstein, and Rachel Harris in 'Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays." (Photo by Chuck Green)

Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays is currently playing at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center. The show features nine short one-act plays from nine distinguished and notable playwrights including Jeffrey Hatcher, Jordan Harrison, Moises Kaufman, Joe Keenen, Neal LaBute, Wendy McLeod, Jose Rivera, Paul Rudnick, and Doug Wright. A rotating cast that changes each week performs each piece as a staged reading. The performance is bare-bones, but tasteful, and features a strong sense of purpose, talented performers, and poignant writing in one of nicest venues in the city. Please note that this review pertains to the May 9 cast only.

Standing on Ceremony is a staged reading, but the talented cast makes it easy to forget the paper scripts and adjustable podiums, giving the audience the opportunity to really relish in fine writing. A few of the works stand out as audience favorites: Moises Kaufman's profound and discerning London Mosquitos depicts a recent widower as he eulogizes his partner. Gently revealing a uniquely romantic and sage-oriented narrative, John Rubinstein's standing ovation worthy recitation of Kaufman's moving monologue is both gracious and blissfully consuming. Doug Wright's On Facebook mimics a heated marriage equality debate among Facebook "friends." Performed congenially by the entire cast, Wright's play is biting, relevant, funny, comically catty. Finally, Neil LaBute's ghostly tear-jerker Strange Fruit, affectionately performed by Jay Harrington and Peter Paige is dark, dramatic, sentimental, and carefully conceptualized.

The thoughtfully curated program of one-acts covers an emotional spectrum from tragedy to comedy and drama to satire. Direction is minimal without a traditional set — neutrally dressed performers read amid aural blue lighting for the entire show. Most importantly, Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays, is a poignant advocacy program that highlights the ongoing struggle for marriage equality in the United States. Each one-act exposes the very real, day-to-day social and interpersonal issues that surface for those denied the civil right to marry because of widespread homophobia and hatred.

Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays is playing at the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center's Village at Ed Gould Plaza on Monday nights through June 17. Tickets are $35 to $50 and available online.