‘The Twilight of the Golds’
Presented by Tin Roof Theatre
March 6, 7, 8 at 7:30 p.m., March 8 and 9 at 2 p.m.
The Stage at Island Park
Director and Tin Roof Theatre company member Larry Schwartz remembers the exact moment he first heard about the play “The Twilight of the Golds.”
“Twenty years ago, I heard about this play on Minnesota Public Radio at the intersection of 10th and 19th Avenue North,” he says. “I thought, ‘what a great story.’ And I’ve wanted to direct it ever since. I couldn’t exactly say why. Perhaps I’m drawn to theatre that deals with moral choices.”
After those twenty years, the play has remained a crucible of moral relevance. The story centers around the Gold family, whose life seems to take a happy turn when daughter Suzanne (played by Crystal Cossette) discovers she is pregnant. But the family is soon thrown into a divisive moral quandary when (fictional) prenatal tests conclude that the child will likely be born homosexual. She considers aborting the fetus, which becomes a point of contention for Suzanne’s conservative parents (Walter and Phyllis Gold, played by Malcolm Thompson and Becky Barry), her gay brother David (played by Ryan Soukup), and her geneticist husband Rob Stein (played by Jeremy Ellsworth).
On top of the ethics of abortion, the question of the rights of a fetus, and our society’s response to homosexuality, the play seeks to address questions of the role of scientific progress. These form an inner complexity for Ellsworth’s Rob. He describes Rob as a man of science, one raised in an orthodox Jewish family but also shying away from that moral sense in favor of an exacting, scientific worldview.
“It’s not that he hates homosexuals, although he may not be comfortable with the concept and accepting of it, but he’s not happy about the child being gay,” Ellsworth says. “He’s willing to live with it if Suzanne wants to, but he would choose not to if it was up to him entirely. It’s not because of biases he might have, but because of the cost/benefit that he would do. It’s the early 90s, and a gay child is not going to have an ideal life.”
Ellsworth says he has enjoyed the process of getting into the head of Rob, someone who represents the aggressive forward march of scientific research. While the issue of gay rights has matured significantly, the morality of genetic research continues to get muddier.
“Genetic research has also been moving at a similar pace, but it’s an area that hasn’t yet reached even close to maturity yet in terms of what the implications are and where it could go in the next 10, 20, 50 years, so it’s really interesting to consider those possibilities and where we are in that trajectory,” he says.
The morality of scientific progress, Schwartz says, could be ripped from tomorrow’s headlines, not just today’s, and “The Twilight of the Golds” provides an opportunity to try to make our own sense of that issue.
“Science gives us a great many things which we are always exhorted to embrace,” he says. “Here’s the thing, you should embrace it. Very rarely are we given the opportunity to say, ‘well, I don’t want to embrace it.’ Maybe embracing it is the wrong thing to do. Considering the consequences of embracing it is something we rarely have the luxury to consider.”
Images, from top: (from left to right) Ryan Soukup, Becky Barry, Malcolm Thompson, Jeremy Ellsworth, and Crystal Cossette rehearse ‘The Twilight of the Golds’ at The Stage at Island Park; Suzanne (Crystal Cossette) and David (Ryan Soukup) share a moment. Photos by the author.