They call themselves The Amoralists. But in their newest play, this five-year-old company throws a mocking spotlight on the moralizing anti-gay avengers of today's Religious Right. As usual, though, whatever message may be inherent in an Amoralists show is massaged with gleeful emotional violence into an outrageous story.
Using an entirely new set of actors, resident playwright Derek Ahonen (who also directs) gives us Contessa and Jackie, a married lesbian couple in their late 30s whose teenage daughter, Garance, is, according to news reports, on a rampage murdering and cannibalizing middle-class moms. Jackie (Anna Stromberg), a raging alcoholic, is the breadwinner, and though the girl is Jackie's biological daughter, Contessa (Mara Lileas) has stayed at home to raise her. Like an old-fashioned heterosexual couple, Jackie doesn't want Contessa to work.
As the pair fight and fret about money, Jackie's drinking, their wayward progeny, and the harassing phone calls they keep getting from fire-breathing Christianists, what stands out is Ahonen's ability to put characters in extraordinary circumstances and distill believable reactions from them so that we go with them wherever they take us. If, late in the play, the focus blurs a bit, I nevertheless felt grateful to have spent time in the company of these people, put so sympathetically through the wringer by the playwright with an optimal balance of drama and humor. ("You're going to leave me, after all I've put you through?")
That's in large part thanks to the brave and powerful performances from the cast. Ms. Stromberg makes Jackie a complex, larger-than-life yet thoroughly sympathetic addict, and Ms. Lileas makes Contessa a marvel of controlled fury; together they're everycouple to the nth degree. When an intensely believable Jordan Tisdale turns up as Contessa's estranged half-brother Dexel, throwing a match on the spilled gasoline and inciting the revelation of a series of surprising secrets, the strength of the couple's bond is tested but never really in doubt.