If you have ever wondered exactly how the LDS Church comes down on members who violate its rules about same sex attraction and marriage, well, this is the play for you.
Plan-B Theatre’s Good Standing is a one-man show performed by Plan-B regular Austin Archer and written by local playwright Mathew Greene. Designer Keven Myhre’s set is a meeting room in a Mormon Stakehouse—Spartan and filled with the cushioned folding chairs that anyone who has been in an LDS church will recognize. (Although, I would have liked to have seen a bulletin board decorated with felt lettering, just to spruce things up a bit. Maybe a faded picture of ’70s Mormon Jesus?)
Curtis Scott Browne (Archer) has been called before a church disciplinary hearing, or church court, to answer charges that he has violated the church’s rules on same-sex marriage, by, well, getting married to a man. So yeah, he’s guilty as sin. But Curt feels obligated to undergo this ordeal to stand up for himself and his husband and their happiness.
What follows is an intricate and well-crafted exploration of the hypocrisy, contradictions and ethical dilemmas (both real and metaphysical) LDS Church policy causes. Think of it as a crash course in Mormon Minutia and dual thinking. Of course, Greene is preaching to the Plan-B Choir here but the level of procedural detail is fascinating and jarring. Archer plays all the characters who are the church leaders gathered to judge him. The stakehouse chairs become devices for Archer to switch characters—from unapologetic legalists and to more-spirit-of-the law types. This range of opinion and discussion among the gathered Brethren, will certainly be surprising to outsiders and Greene’s script deftly teases out the internal struggle the LDS Church is facing with this issue.
Archer’s performance is moving, humorous and quick. Through Greene’s script he manages to humanize what are often characters of generic old white guys. There are some eye-rolling moments, where Archer’s Curt, mugs for the audience like “get a load of these guys” but in sum the play offers a gentle chide along with honest sympathy for the moral dilemma many believing Mormons find themselves in.
Good Standing runs through Oct. 28 at the Rose Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. Tickets to the remaining performances are selling fast.
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