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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 22 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 34
Questions of the Heart: When John Q. Mormon takes on Johnny Queer Mormon
Arts & Entertainment
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Questions of the Heart: When John Q. Mormon takes on Johnny Queer Mormon

by Doug Hamilton - SGN Contributing Writer

QUESTIONS OF THE HEART
THEATRE 22
August 18 & 19


Theatre22 performed a public service bringing Ben Abbott's Questions of the Heart, to Seattle's Tyee Yacht Club for a limited, two-night run on August 18 and 19. In its short time here, the show sparked controversy and open debate. A touchy subject after six years, the Mormon Church's foray in politics during the Proposition 8 campaign still evokes raw emotions for some members of the LGBTQ community who feel angry and betrayed by what they see as the church using wealth gathered for religious purposes to persecute sexual minorities in 2008 California politics.

There is no truth to the charge that Questions of the Heart is '... one of the most offensive and dangerous pieces of propaganda, and apology pieces about the Mormon church that I have witnessed in a very long time,' as a particularly disgruntled audience member wrote about the show on social media after its Seattle opening. The show directly confronts the pain, emotional abuse, and suicides Mormon Gays and Lesbians have suffered at the hands of the Mormon Church by retelling their stories in their own words. If anybody should have squirmed during the performance, it would be the straight, devoted Mormons in the audience.

But back to the performance: To put it in context, last week, the world mourned the passing of two great legendary actors, Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall. Williams was beloved as a chameleon, who could channel multiple persona with lightening quick intensity. Lauren Bacall was loved for being Lauren Bacall, no matter what role she played. Ben Abbott, who wrote this one-act, one-man show based on the interviews he made, falls more into the Bacall category. Like Bacall, or actually, a lot like Jimmy Stewart, he remains pretty much the character of himself as he tells these stories.

Like Stewart, he is the everyman caught in the middle, and who takes us on a guided tour to the heart of some serious existential matters, and leaves the audience satisfied with the ride. He spared us what could have been offensive caricatures and yet made us laugh and cry at an untenable situation. Abbott is genuinely right there with us on the rollercoaster, feeling what we do, and what Mormon Queers felt during Prop 8. Not bad for a straight Mormon dude who really did not have to sign up for this scary, ridiculous ride, let alone take us with him.

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Questions of the Heart: When John Q. Mormon takes on Johnny Queer Mormon
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