By Tulis McCall
The press for What The End Will Be by Mansa Ra now At Roundabout through July 10th, explains that this is the story of three generations of gay men living under one roof grappling each with his own truth of what it means to be gay. Well, sorta kinda.
There is Mr. Bartholomew Kennedy (Keith Randolph Smith) who exited the closet after his wife died and his old Vietnam army buddy reappeared on the scene. There is his son Maxwell Kennedy (Emerson Brooks) who is so focused on the professional fast track that he cannot tell his work colleagues he is married to his white husband Charles (Randy Harrison). Bringing up the rear is Maxwell’s son Tony (Gerald Caesar) who is sneaking around with Antoine (Ryan Jamaal Swain) who looks better in a mini-dress than a lot of women.
Like his father, however, Tony cannot wear his affection for Antoine on his sleeve or even in his own house. The only Kennedy comfortable in his skin is the eldest Kennedy – and he is dying. So it is the living Kennedy’s who have the work of life on their plate.
In most ways this is Maxwell’s story. He is the one who keeps making one mistake after another while the other men look on. The thing is, we are never sure why. Why can he not admit he is married? Why does having a gay son put him off his feed? Why would he ditch his family on Thanksgiving and go play golf (even though he was a last minute invite) with his boss? There is no rhyme or reason for it, unless you factor in his father’s soon to be end.
This fact is indeed addressed, but only when Bartholomew insists on it, and only when journey has taken a turn and lays the path out for them all.
On the whole, there is a lot of sturm and drang without much connection. Lots of talk with little meat on the bones. The concept is remarkable, and the execution on the dull side. The only sign of some serious snap-crackle-pop is Antoine, who will proudly admit that he has ben offending people since before he knew what offending people was. Too bad there was not more of him to rattle the Kennedy Clan.
The Kennedy family could use a whole lot more of Antoine and a little less navel gazing. And what about a shutout from Maxwell’s ex-wife? I bet she has a story to tell. Just sayin’.
What The End Will Be, Written by Mansa Ra and directed by Margot Bordelon
WITH Emerson Brooks, Gerald Caesar, Randy Harrison, Keith Randolph Smith, Ryan Jamaal Swain and Tiffany Villarin.
Reid Thompson (Sets), Emilio Sosa (Costumes), Jiyoun Chang (Lighting), and Palmer Hefferan (Sound).