God’s Waiting Room presented by the Elephant Theatre Company at the Matrix Theatre is a world premier with feeling. Directed by David Fofi and written by Robert Austin Rossi, this play is a story of family, love, religion, betrayal, and perhaps redemption. A young man is dying of HIV, and his sister and her husband come to pay their final respects. But the sister is conservative and haunted by her guilt and view that her brother is a sinner in the eyes of God.
Through the crafty use of monologues by the spectral figure of the dying man, one steps into time and sees the life of Billy D’Agostino and his relationship with his loved ones. Actor Jeremy Glazer does a fantastic job of telling the audience about his past and his relationships with his sister and her husband. His monologues are open and vulnerable, like confessions to a priest.
Katheleen Garrett has the challenge of playing Lois Ruggerio and Randy Vasquez plays her tolerant husband Stephen Ruggerio. Lios, a devote Catholic, has many conflicts with being in the waiting room of the hospital. Though a Catholic woman rejecting her gay brother seems like a stereotype, this play gives it a fresh take with some surprising turns. It is a lesson, also, in religious differences as Lois is confronted both by her disagreeing husband, and by an Anglican priest, Carlos Mendez, played by Mark Adair-Rios. Garrett gives a powerful performance as a conflicted and angry woman and Vasquez plays off her believably, meeting her every quip with a comeback until driven out.
Despite its tragic circumstance, this play has moments of comedy that lighten the heart, particularly in its use of sarcasm. Lois insists she is not a bigot while demonstrably being a bigot. Her husband’s truthful criticisms, plus the monologues by Glazer as Billy, also make the show more about a life than about a dying man. The playwright Rossi makes it clear that this is not a play that wants to hate one religion over another. In fact, the priest Mendez even says that an atheist like Bill Maher is a good man. The character of Father Mendez gives this play a dose of love and reason to contrast the animosity and fear in Lois. Yet Lois is really a woman needing to confess her own hypocrisy and come to terms with her own mistakes. God’s Waiting Room grants insight into people who loved each other but were divided by ignorance.
Some parts are double cast. Charlie Pacello is also cast as Billy D’Agostino, and Anthony Roman is the alternate for Carlos Mendez. There is also a nurse played by Leshay Boyce with much understanding. Her alternates are Gisla Stringerand and Atika Greene.
This short gem of a production may cause some audience members to have a good cry. It is worth it.
God’s Waiting Room, by Robert Austin Rossi.
7657 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90046
Runs until April 2nd
Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m.
Sundays, 5:00 p.m.
Running time: Approximately seventy minutes, with no intermission.
For tickets check on line or call (323) 960-7784