When my friend Derek Meeker showed up on a Facebook chat I had no idea it would lead me to the bubbling gates of “Caught,” LA’s longest running play (and for good reason.) He was swinging in for the lead and I surely did not want to miss out on his performance. Going in feeling a bit disillusioned about the Los Angeles theater scene, albeit optimistic, “Caught” renewed my faith again and again as its seamless script was played out by an ensemble cast worthy of any Broadway stage. “Caught” draws its audience in, taking us with it on a delectable domestic journey of love, courage, acceptance, and eventually forgiveness.
I grew up in the theater and have been around gay men pretty much my whole life. Hell, without gay men who would have so closely befriended the younger, more abrasive me years ago? Welcomed my bold personality? Cheerfully celebrated me at various 80s nights and disco techs? As friends, colleagues, and mentors, gay people have always been, well, just people to me.
Discrimination against gay people should have ended long ago like puritan witch-hunts and prohibition. Unfortunately, as “Caught” so eloquently reminds its audience, homosexuality is still widely misunderstood and unaccepted, challenging families, friendships, and even gay partnerships themselves.
On an immaculate set only a few feet from its entranced audience, what these 6 actors achieve is nothing short of perfect. It is a true privilege to witness actors 100% devoted to living in the world of this play 100% of the time. Not an accent is dropped nor is a moment lost between this talented ensemble cast. Their commitment, combined with the spot on direction of Nick DeGruccio and a flawless script written by David L. Ray, leads to an unforgettable theatrical experience right here in Los Angeles.
If you think of the romantic leads as a gay couple at the beginning of the play, I assure you that by the time you are crying along with them at curtain call, Troy and Kenneth represent any loving couple going through a period of accepting each other (and themselves) “as is” before an impending legalized partnership.
I had no idea that it was Derek Meeker(Troy)’s first time performing with co-star Jason Dechert(Kenneth) as their chemistry was tangible even from a foot away where I could see their every, ever so slight movement. As was the love between Kenneth and his sister, Darlene (Deborah Puette) and her daughter Krystal(a stand out performance by Amanda Keschak.) There is so much love and conflict between the 3 that with tears, laughter and a multitude of emotions between, I found myself truly invested in the success of these relationships. Often relieving us from the weight of it all, Splenda(Michah McCain) serves as a silly and wise old soul whose interjections consistently make the audience unabashedly LOL. Richard Jenik is perfectly unlikeable as antagonist J.P.
Without beating us over the head with religious doctrine or making a mockery of it, the story brings to light the conflict between religious hypocrisy and true righteousness proposing, “Maybe somewhere in the middle is a good place for all of us, right now.”
If you are still conflicted about gay equal rights perhaps taking someone out for a night of theater is a good way to open up a dialogue about it. With gay marriage just legalized in New York and other states (and eventually all of them) certain to follow, now is the time to open your mind and search your own consciousness for where you stand and perhaps where you are willing to be flexible. Experiencing “Caught” is a great place to start!
Catch it before it’s too late at the Zephyr Theater on Melrose.
Open your heart. Be silly. Have Fun.