Courageous, a new play by Michael Healey directed by Richard Rose, is playing at the Tarragon Theatre until February 7. I attended a matinee on January 17th.
It’s a very funny show, particularly the first act. The story begins at a magistrate’s office, where a white trash couple named Todd and Tammy are about to get married. The show practically starts mid-sentence, with Tammy confronting her best friend Lisa for recently blowing Todd. Their marriage is officiated by a gay Catholic named Tom. When, immediately afterward, a gay couple come in and asked to get married, Tom refuses to officiate because it’s against his religion. The idea of a gay man, in a gay relationship, refusing to perform a gay marriage is the drama’s initial thrust. The pushier of the two gays, a lawyer named Brian, sues Tom and ruins him, ruins his relationship with his rich, classy Sudanese boyfriend Arthur, and even ruins his own relationship with a man named Martin Guest. The pursuit of social justice can lead everyone down the crapper.
The second act is totally different, practically a different show with the same characters and set. It begins with Todd, the white trash guy, narrating the story of how he and his young bride Tammy start a life together. Tammy is never happy with Todd’s lack of ambition, and she is angry that a Somali man named George is given the coveted apartment across the hall. Eventually, they form a close bond with George, who becomes a Christian and exerts religious influence on the couple.
There were so many delicious bits in the script, like when the Sudanese man says Canada is virtually a “theme park of liberties”. There are great, long scenes full of excellent speeches about the nature of rights and freedoms, the sort of scenes actors just love to play. Generally, the performances were very good, in particular Maurice Dean Wint in the two black guys roles of Arthur and George. This is a very entertaining and thought-provoking play, and judging from the packed house, it seems that people, including myself, really like this show.