Fruit Fly at Celebration Theatre

It’s like a weird date with new parents – you know what I mean: an invitation to their home for drinks and conversation. Before you know it, you’re strapped to the living room couch as they break out the home movies and endless baby pictures.

When Leslie Jordan does it, it’s pure enjoyment and this time around it is you who is begging him to pull out even more photos.

Jordan’s new one-man show, Fruit Fly delights in the ups and downs of growing up a southern gay man with an understanding mother, though you don’t have to be from the South to identify with Jordan. Anecdotal in nature, “Fruit Fly” wastes no time getting to the core of the piece. Jordan, the diminutive actor best known for his role as Beverly Leslie, the sexually ambiguous (really??) nemesis to Megan Mullally’s Karen Walker on “Will and Grace” and as the Tammy Wynette-obsessed Brother Boy in “Sordid Lives,” takes command of the stage and keeps his audience in rapt attention for the duration of the show, never once letting up on the hilarious asides and delicious personal tidbits about life with mother!

A gracious host in his own element (the set a cozy southern home designed by Jimmy Cuomo), Jordan welcomes us with open arms, a sassy tongue, and ready to dispense gossip, mostly about himself, really.

He touches upon his sheltered upbringing in a garden designed for his feminine affinity for dolls, dressing up, and red cowboy boots. He talks about his father and you can tell he admired and loved him deeply, despite the fact that he was ashamed of his son being a “sissy.”

It’s with his mother, Peggy Ann, that he is most able to be himself, but it’s not all mint juleps and jonquils on the veranda on a summer night in the Jordan household. Being a teenager in the early 70s was enough to cause a giant rift in his relationship with his beloved mom. It’s not as though he could greet gentlemen callers on his porch, no, he had to find them at the local cruising parks. And yet, despite his behavior (and some of mom’s own eccentricities), this ode to his mother never becomes a platform for bashing her.

Under director David Galligan’s guidance, “Fruit Fly” feels like stand-up comedy. But it’s more than that. The comedy vibe brings in the audience, but it’s Jordan’s sensibility that moves us beyond that. Some of his observations about being gay and losing a parent go right to the heart and manage to pull out a few tears here and there, but never at the expense of cheap sentimentality. When you’re not choking back tears, they flow from sheer laughter.

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About Obed Medina
Obed received his BA in Creative Writing from the University of California at Riverside. He has freelanced and volunteered at various theatre companies in Los Angeles since 2002. He launched his own workshop theatre company in 2008 and has produced six original one-act plays and one Off-Broadway hit. Currently, he is living in Ashland, Oregon working on his writing and founder of Collaborative Theatre Project.

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