The information which sends Mr. Green off to bed at the end of Act One may come as a surprise to audiences members under the assumption that a young man as conservatively dressed, as straight of stature, and as average/everyday as Ross Gardiner appears to be must simply be waiting for the right woman to bring him the years of happiness that Mr. Green found with his Yetta.

Mr. Green certainly doesn’t see Ross’s coming out coming.  Even after Ross tells Mr. Green his story, including a serious romantic relationship with another man—destroyed by Ross’s need for secrecy—Mr. Green refuses to believe that his weekly visitor is gay. After all, he doesn’t act like a woman.  He doesn’t touch other men in the toilet. He doesn’t bother little boys. He can’t be gay. He can’t possibly be doing the dirty, unnatural, disgusting (and un-Jewish) things that a faygele does.

As I heard Mr. Green trot out the same old lies and misconceptions that the Yes On 8 folk used last Fall to persuade Californians to deny 10% of their fellow citizens marriage equality, a part of me was thinking, do I have to hear this all again? Then I realized that there must be men and women like Mr. Green in the audience, well-meaning people who may simply need to spend time with someone like Ross and to come to care about his happiness … in order to let their minds be opened—even a teensy bit—as Mr. Green’s ultimately is.

What won’t be revealed here is information that Ross learns about Mr. Green’s family in Act Two, something I didn’t realize still happened in contemporary America, let alone in New York City. Much as I may wish to deny it, intolerance is alive and well in the U.S., and not just towards people whose sexual orientation is different from their own.

Act One of Visiting Mr. Green is an entirely entertaining introduction to two very different men, but it is Act Two that makes Jeff Baron’s play something quite out of the ordinary, and even more relevant today than it was when first staged in 1996.  Talkback performances (on September 4 and 17) should be lively indeed.

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