Confessions of a Mormon Boy
nytheatre.com review by Maggie Bell
August 15, 2004
As I looked around on opening night of FringeNYC, there was something magical about seeing people in groups everywhere supporting theatre, rain or shine. For his part, writer/performer Steven Fales carried this excitement into a brave performance of his one-man show, Confessions of a Mormon Boy.
Confessions is an autobiography of a sixth-generation Mormon whose transformation goes against everything he has known. Although the title implies that this show is about Mormonism, the story merely begins there—Confessions is really an epic about being gay and about allowing oneself to be imperfect. Fales' performance comes deeply from his heart and is admirably honest. Stories of self-discovery are often told, but this one has a rare humility.
As a devout Mormon, Fales seeks years of therapy to "correct" his sexuality. He marries and has two children because it is "right." But by the age of 30, Fales cannot take the misery of following what is wrong for him. He divorces, comes out as a gay man, and faces excommunication. We see through his text how much pain this puts Fales through. Still, he speaks of his wife, parents, and children with reverence and respect. After this, we follow his arrival in New York, his time as a male escort, his plunge into the world of drugs, and finally, the fear and resolution that helped him turn his life around.
Jack Hofsiss directs Confessions simply, allowing Fales to explore his story as himself. The show is magnetic when Fales acts out his most vulnerable moments, such as when he is drunk in the Roxy (a Manhattan gay bar) or when he speaks of his children. He shows a bravado through his body, but a simple sadness in his eyes. His plastic “Mormon smile” becomes a metaphor, lost when Fales feels lost and found again as he grows.
Hofsiss aptly stages Fales to find moments in which to slow down and let us into his emotions, but a few more would be better. Fales speaks in a clipped, jovial tone through much of the story, making him seem at times too defensive. His sharing so many detailed rules of Mormonism bogs down the narrative; however, it was effective in revealing why it was so hard for Fales to break away from that life.
Confessions of a Mormon Boy is from a courageous soul who is willing to share what he has learned through the wild journey of life. Steven Fales came through a metamorphosis to realize that it is all right to be himself. He made me feel grateful to be imperfect.