Center Stage Shows the Funny Side of Grief through ‘Wild With Happy’

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We all know there are many stages of grief. Wild with Happy, at Center Stage will have you embracing the funny side of the emotion people try desperately to avoid. Through a somewhat accurate depiction of some spirited church services, Gil, the protagonist, starts off by letting the audience know exactly where he stands with organized religion.

Being dragged  to Sunday service by his mother Adelaide after one of her failed relationships, Gil sees her on-again, off-again relationship with the church and the roller coaster ride of judgment and redemption on which it takes her.  This, combined with politically incorrect  (yet menacingly funny) ‘reckonings’ some church members have on Gil’s sexuality, mold how he perceives the people in church as judging and unaccepting.  This struggle sets the tone for the play, as Gil stumbles between what is expected through culture and religion and being true to himself and his mother’s memory. Fear and guilt literally drives him further away from what was expected of him in dealing with the death of a parent.

Gil, Adelaide’s only child, wrestles with grief and loss in a way that is familiar and real. You see how Adelaide dealt with the grief of failed relationships, failed health and failed dreams, yet continuing to hold on to hope and love.  Her journey offers a reminder of the importance of dreaming and seeing life a bit differently than everyone else. There is an innocence and hope in Adelaide’s dreams of fairytale endings despite the fact she sees the only way of getting that happiness is by chance instead of creating it through your own decisions and actions. Gil’s search for happiness in a marginal acting career (demonstrating his need to escape into other characters) even after graduating from Yale, gives a glimpse of his inability to face his own reality. Wild with Happy touches on many other usually sensitive emotional and societal areas with humor, that is not mockery, but honest.

From sexuality to family relationships, to selfishness to greed, the play continues on a wild emotional trip that will have you laughing, shedding a tear or two and reconsidering your thoughts on how to process grief. Through his cast of four, Colman Domingo, infuses the reality of grief in the hilarity of life and the people around us. Gil, who wrestles with more than grief, has touched the lives of Mo, a friend that joins him in in his “crazy” but recognizes when Gil truly needs help. Then there is Aunt Glo, with her velour sweat suits and  fanny pack, who sees and understands more than just her own obvious selfishness.. And let’s not forget about Terry (the fourth), a newly appointed director of his family’s funeral business,  who is somehow freed to accept his true self after his interactions with Gil. Domingo elegantly shows how grief left unchecked can affect every area of your life and can leave you unknowingly stuck. Wild with Happy offers side-splitting humor and unparalleled one liners that will make you say “churl, please” with all the seriousness the phrase deserves.



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