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Theater review: ‘Daddy’ at Hudson Mainstage

January 20, 2011 |  6:00 pm

DADDY_1NCsm Middle-aged columnist Colin McCormack invokes ancient Greece in a self-serving attempt to legitimize his complicated relationship with a college student young enough to be his son, but his best friend, Stew, isn’t buying it. “Those stories never ended well,” Stew points out. “Someone was always stabbing out their eyes or getting chained to a rock.”

His witty observation proves all too prophetic as “Daddy,” Dan Via’s dramedy at the Hudson Mainstage, takes a darker turn. Stew may not hold Greek tragedy in high regard, but the genre obviously had a powerful influence on Via, who also plays him. While Via’s script touches on the gay marriage debate, its structure is more classical theater piece than topical polemic.

As the protagonist undone by hubris, Gerald McCullouch’s thoroughly believable Colin is torn between mature responsibility and Peter Pan-like resistance to growing older. His secret aspirations of fatherhood may be out of reach given his homosexual orientation, but when an opportunity for at least symbolic fulfillment appears in the guise of Tee (Ian Verdun), a troubled black intern at Colin’s newspaper, the impulse to become Tee’s “Daddy” mentor is irresistible. Unfortunately, Colin’s physical attraction to Tee gets the better of his judgment, setting the stage for some icky blurred boundaries.

Their reckless romance — along with Tee’s stalker-ish obsession with Colin’s past — ring alarm bells for Stew, an introverted law school professor whose intellectual bent has kept his emotional life — and his own ambiguous feelings for Colin — at bay. As Stew’s warnings threaten to undermine their longtime friendship, Via and McCulloch, who originated these roles, bring well-honed rapport to Rick Sparks’ adept staging.

Crafting a modern-day Greek drama with the bona-fide shock cred of the classics is a challenge when the most outlandish taboos are merely reality show fodder, but Via manages it, albeit with recourse to startling plot twists that strain probability. 

Having ignited an emotional powder keg, however, the play lacks the courage of its convictions, opting for a far-too-tidy resolution that sidesteps longer-term moral and psychological consequences.

— Philip Brandes

“Daddy,” Hudson Mainstage, 8539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays. Ends Feb. 13. $30. (323) 960-7738 or Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes.

Photo: Dan Via, left, and Gerald McCullouch. Credit: Ed Krieger.