Golconda

Social media has changed the world, especially here in the United States. This is the starting point for Golconda, a play about how legalization of same-sex marriage is a steppingstone toward a more progressive future.

Social media has changed the world, especially here in the United States. You can go on the internet in total anonymity and say anything you want, get anything you want and find anything you want. It’s the ultimate tool for niche cultures to meet like-minded individuals. This is the starting point for Golconda, a play about how legalization of same-sex marriage is a steppingstone toward a more progressive future. But law doesn’t change human nature, and that’s precisely what Golconda tackles, with an artistic twist. (The show’s title is inspired by a painting by René Magritte.) Written by Robert Macke and produced by the Tongue of the Mind theater group, Golconda is the story of artists Magritte (Jeff Miller), Picasso (Andrew Ian Adams), Van Gogh (Chris Bishop) and Warhol (Jack Manion) all gathered together for brunch before a gay pride parade. Or is it? It quickly becomes clear that the play is operating with a kind of magical realism, with the fantastical treated as the everyday, and very much on an allegorical level. This creates a platform for these men, ranging across a spectrum of ages and backgrounds, to hash out what’s expected of them and what they expect of each other in a society that doesn’t understand them.Miller’s Magritte is the heart of the play. His ongoing monologue is interspersed throughout and creates vivid imagery and emotion. The actor also has immediate chemistry and a sense of history with the other actors, especially Manion. Warhol was a larger-than-life figure, so it would be easy enough to play to that image, but Manion injects pathos into what could otherwise be a Lady Gaga impersonation. As Picasso, Adams is the linchpin between Manion’s flamboyant character and Bishop’s curmudgeonly Van Gogh, conveying a sassiness and maternal protectiveness of the others that makes him a referee of sorts. Bishop’s role, by contrast, gets some of the more racy lines, and this is indeed a racy play. But it draws from a place of real pain.Golconda doesn’t shy away from mature language and taboo topics, and it even flirts with nudity and a shocking moment of explicit sex. That lends the show an edge. But there’s also an impressive balance of tone. Manion and Adams are often hilarious, but they subtly shift toward explosions of anger and then an all-too-real and intimate finale that’s just two people hurting each other with words and empty silence. Very intense and hard to watch at times due to the harsh emotion it taps into, Golconda is an amazing empathy machine. It shows exactly what it feels like to not be able to be yourself, something everyone has experienced at some point.

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