CONFESSIONS OF A MORMON BOY is very theatrically presented. A theatricality that is informed by the bible-thump of proselyting and the leftover shame of “unholy, impure practices”. You can hurl the boy out of the Mormons but that eager-to-please-ness is still there in the performance and it takes a bit of a leap of faith to enjoy Steven Fales extraordinary story.
Born into a Mormon family and a junior true believer, as witnessed by his own 7 year old voice singing on the audio track as the show begins, Fales enters with the smile and false laugh that has been styled by his experiences in rote delivery. His story takes his audience through his upbringing, his youth mission to Portugal, a seriously in-denial hopeful marriage and a coming out that is far from typical. All with an honesty and truthful text that gives the audience insights into what, how and why.
It’s an energetic performance from Fales, directed by Jack Hofsiss, who uses the whole stage with a dynamism related to the place in the story. He also changes clothes occasionally and has well timed moments of stillness and direct address. Though the show has quite a bit of discussion around sex practices, the humour and humanity is available to the female audience equally with the many men who nod with recognition. Fales doesn’t spare the detail … no more “Mormon modesty”, nor does he skip over his failings and hopes. And those of the church, family and those around him are expressed with insight and big hits of pathos as we learn what the church, his family and those around him mean in his life.
He can present it all with a flash and a smile and a very nice low baritone, perfect for show tunes, but the swagger of the performance blusters a bit much and it requires effort from the watcher to get to the emotional content, until the final sequences where Fales does lose the persona and the work reaches out successfully.
CONFESSIONS OF A MORMON BOY is a polished show, bordering on slick, which gives a human and genuine story a place to be at home with its gay family. It continues at Giant Dwarf until March 9.