On Saturday, March 3, the Internet was treated to a wonderful live-stream of a staged reading for 8, a new play about the trial over Prop 8. The play, which consists primarily of transcripts from the trial where Prop 8, California’s ban on gay marriage, was overturned, was a sublime blend of drama, comedy and politics.
What made the staged reading even more impressive was the level of talent they got. It starred Brad Pitt as the judge, George Clooney and Martin Sheen as the lawyers trying to overturn Prop 8 and Kevin Bacon as the lawyer defending it.
The cast also featured Christine Lahti, Jamie Lee Curtis, Glee‘s Matthew Morrison and White Collar‘s Matt Bomer as the four plaintiffs. Various other characters, mostly witnesses in the trial, were played by Glee stars Jane Lynch and Chris Colfer, Modern Family‘s Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Grey’s Anatomy‘s James Pickens, Jr., The Simpsons voice Yeardley Smith, The Celebrity Apprentice contestant George Takei, and John C. Reilly, among others.
It was a tremendous production and you can watch the full stream of the play here.
NOTE: The actual play performance starts at 29:50 in this video.
Now here are my favorite performances from the production..
#1 John C. Reilly
As the lone pro-Prop 8 witness, Reilly’s cross-examination by George Clooney was an unbelievably hilarious comedy. He was nervous, uncomfortable, needy and, in the end, he contradicted his own side. It was easily the funniest thing Reilly has ever done and the highlight of the play.
#2 Jane Lynch
Playing a right-wing crusader fervently against gay marriage, she channeled Sue Sylvester in blasting her hatred off the stage, a wonderfully silly bit.
#3 Christine Lahti
Of the four plaintiffs, Lahti had the most to do as the mother of two teenage sons trying to explain to them what’s happening. Her speeches were incredibly moving and gave serious weight to the material.
#4 Kevin Bacon
Perhaps the most difficult job in this play was Bacon’s as Charles Cooper, the lawyer defending Prop 8. Obviously he’s the villain of the piece, but he managed to make him seem earnest, even when he was tongue-tied (the single best moment of the play is when the judge asks him a question about the case and his only response is “I don’t know”). Bacon didn’t make Cooper a die-hard, anti-gay hate-monger, but rather a real lawyer trying to win a case without making it too political.
#5 Chris Colfer
He only had a brief part as a witness whose parents sent him to a gay conversion facility. However, Colfer was wonderfully dramatic in a play where the seriousness of issues like gay teens contemplating suicide actually made sense.
Honorable Mention: Martin Sheen
His big final monologue during his closing argument was the kind of glorious, Jed Bartlet-esque moment I was waiting for and earned the biggest applause break of the show, and with good reason.
What did you think about the staged reading of 8?
(Image and video courtesy of AFER)