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Review: 'Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays' - 3 stars

Beth Leavel and Polly Draper. (Joan Marcus)

Beth Leavel and Polly Draper. (Joan Marcus) Credit: Beth Leavel and Polly Draper. (Joan Marcus)

Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays
3 stars

"Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays" combines nine 10-minute plays written by eight playwrights, all of which deal in different ways with gay marriage.

The plays are performed by a terrific six-member cast: Craig Bierko, Richard Thomas, Polly Draper, Beth Leavel, Harriet Harris and Mark Consuelos. While there is almost no staging and the actors read from scripts placed on music stands, they bring to life the humor, heart and humanity behind these plays.

As you'd expect from such a potpourri of plays by different artists, some are much better than others. For example, Neil LaBute's "Strange Fruit," which juxtaposes two explicit monologues dealing with a gay man's murder just prior to his wedding, is stylistically out of place with everything else.

Paul Rudnick has contributed two hilarious one-acts that showcase Harris. In "The Gay Agenda," she plays an Ohio housewife delivering a speech where she tries frantically to defend her anti-gay-marriage views and reveals herself to be a total nut. In "My Husband," Harris is a Jewish mother who is so ashamed that her gay son is single that she prematurely puts his wedding notice in the newspaper.

In "On Facebook," Doug Wright dramatizes an actual Facebook thread in which a group of gay rights supporters square off against a woman (played by Leavel) who will not support gay marriage but nevertheless claims to have gay friends.

In a nice bit of symmetry, the show opens with Jordan Harrison's "The Revision," in which two men attempt to write sarcastically realistic wedding vows, and ends with "Pablo & Andre at the Altar of Words," which features vows spoken at a marriage ceremony and ends with a big smooch by Bierko and Consuelos.

If you go: "Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays" plays an open run at the Minetta Lane Theatre. 18 Minetta Lane, 866-448-7849, 

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