"Twilight of the Golds" at Theater Within, March 17 

The Theater Within

Directed by Rod Issaac

When this play ran briefly on Broadway in 1993, one critic slammed it as a "facile comic melodrama with painfully lofty ambitions." Although it needs nips and tucks, Jonathan Tolins' Twilight of the Golds plays much better on a cramped stage in 2010 mid-America.

The story of the Gold family, a Jewish couple (Susan Pieples and Dan Flahive) and their two grown children, is still packed with issues: genetic engineering, the AIDS crisis and abortion. However, this often funny re-telling keeps the focus on family. Though married and expecting a child, daughter Suzanne (Ruth Hawkins) continually measures her actions against what her parents might think. And though the parents seem to adore son David (Dannon Crews), a witty and flamboyant set designer, they never include his male lover in family gatherings. Familial bonds are put to the test when fictional fetal screening determines that Suzanne's baby will be gay and, far from being neutral, this is deemed terrible news.

Nobody here is going to win a Tony, but that's a good thing. Even Tolins' clunky monologues are bearable, because the acting is matter-of-fact and the characters seem like people, not walking-talking issues. Director Rod Isaac reaches beyond his grasp with poorly controlled music and lighting, meant to accentuate the operatic consequences of their actions. Still, I recommend Twilight as an intriguing look at how politics have changed in two decades and how being human hasn't. Through March 27. www.thechurchwithin.org/theaterwithin

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