Stephen Spinells & Michael Esper. Taken from webage of The Public Theater
The cast was as close to perfect as you could get. In fact, it's hard for me to pick one actor that outshines the rest. Instead, I'll just pick a few that touched a chord with me. I loved seeing Stephen Spinella in the role of Pill. He's dealing with so many things in his life, including the fact that he loves his partner Paul, but has been cheating on him for years. Normally my head would go straight to "what a jerk!" with someone who had been cheating on their significant other. But Spinella made Pill a character that you connected with, even if you don't understand why he does the things he does.
Michael Cristofer in the role of Gus Marrcantonio was a wonderful thing to behold. This man is so conflicted about how to make his family understand that he simply doesn't want to live anymore. His individual conversations with his children seem to be his way of not only making his peace with them, but making his peace with himself. Cristofer's Gus makes it well known that he adores his children and his decision to end his life has nothing to do with anything they have or haven't done.
And of course, I have to mention Michael Esper in the role of Eli, Pill's lover. Anyone who knows me (or reads my blog) knows that I love Esper. After all, I did see American Idiot six times. This role was so different, and yet very much the same. Eli is young. He's living a life many would not approve of (slightly on the outskirts of society like Will in American Idiot?). But he has a heart. And Michael Esper makes sure that you know it. There was a point during the show that I wanted to walk up on stage and give him a hug. Not because he was Michael Esper, but because I truly felt like Eli needed a hug.
In between all of the drama and craziness of the story (if I just told you all the details you'd swear it was an episode of Jerry Springer) you begin to realize that this family is just like your family. Your family has issues. They fight at Thanksgiving dinners and family holidays. They laugh together. They drive each other crazy. And you also become very glad of the comedic touches that are woven throughout the story. I believe Kushner did a great job of writing a play that has enough comedy that you don't leave feeling hopeless or sad.
This show is only running through June 12th. Although I realize I don't have a great deal of readers (and even less in the NYC area), I highly encourage anyone who can get there to go. It's worth it.