Written by Michael McKeever and directed by Joe Brancato, Daniel's Husband tells the story of two gay men, Daniel (Ryan Spahn) and Mitchell (Matthew Montelongo), who personify the perfect couple. They've been madly in love since they first met seven years ago. They're both successful in their own right -- one a novelist with a gay cult following, the other, an esteemed architect. And they love to host intimate dinner parties with close friends, which is where the play begins.
The couple is hosting their long-time friend, Barry (Lou Liberatore), and his new young, excitable twink, Trip (Leland Wheeler), who's Barry's flavor of the week. Only, Trip isn't as naive and doe-eyed as the men initially assume.
What initially starts off as fun cocktail dinner talk turns borderline hostile as Mitchell explains to Trip with too much fervor why he's vehemently opposed to same-sex marriage and refuses to marry his partner of seven years. While Daniel is visibly upset by this conversation, clearly yearning to marry Mitchell, Mitchell continues on his self-righteous tirade, accurately addressing the myriad of issues with the constitution of marriage, but doing so in a tone-deaf manner.
The show starts off a little rocky, attempting to do too much with too little. Mitchell confronts Barry about his pattern of dating men half his age, only to kick them to the curb within a month, a storyline that seemed pivotal in the beginning of the show, only to be completely dropped by the second scene. The dialogue, which attempted to be fun and playful, was a little forced and not always the most believable. Instead of feeling like a conversation that gay men actually have, it felt more like what straight people assume gay men talk about at a dinner party (even though it was written by a gay man).
I don't want to give away what happens next because the twist is what makes the show, but what I can say, is the decision to not get married has a large impact on their lives. The play really begins to shine once an unexpected misfortune hits the couple.
Pulling at heartstrings, Montelongo, who plays Mitchell, proceeds to give a powerful performance showing what one will do for true love. His pain and fears are palpable. And his inability to give up or lose hope in the most trying times makes one yearn for that type of heartfelt connection, and went as far as to make me question if I have ever truly loved someone.
I don't want to give away anymore than I already have, but to see how Mitchell copes, grieves, and preserves is what makes the show compelling.
By the time the curtain closes, I guarantee you'll have shed many tears.
Daniel's Husband is currently at the Westside Theatre (407 W 43rd St, New York, NY) on an open run. You can purchase tickets here.