It's easy to think that Paul Oakley Stovall's comedy Immediate Family is simply about a young gay man who comes out to his family, but it's more than that. ''It's a play about family,'' director Eileen J. Morris tells us. ''It happens that someone in this family is gay, but every family deals with differences, copes with how to accept each other. This family is no different.''
The six characters in Immediate Family, including several adult siblings, have each manipulated the truth in one way or another, through what they choose to say and what they choose to hear. ''One son [Jesse] is gay. Some members of the family know it, some others have suspected and some chose not to acknowledge it.
''I would say that all the characters in this play have…withheld information from the others. Even if it's not a complete secret, it's information they haven't told the others in the most truthful way. Why is that? Because of their fear of rejection, which is what happens to us as human beings. We don't want to be rejected; we want to be loved, so sometimes we don’t say things other people don’t want to hear. ''
Morris says she selected Immediate Family as part of the Ensemble's season not only because it was well-written but because acceptance, including acceptance of homosexuals, is a topic African Americans encounter every day. ''I wanted our community to look at how we've been treating homosexuals; we haven't always treated them in a way that reflects our humanity. When we did Race [last season], it was a way for us to look at racial issues. This is a look at homosexuality and our response to it. It's not going to be pretty all the time, but we have to look at it.''
The play features a black family, but Morris says the show's themes and situations will resonate with everyone. ''It doesn't matter if you come from an African-American family, an Asian family, a Hispanic family; you're going to look at this and go, 'I know somebody like that.' Or 'That same exact thing happened in my family.'''
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7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. Through October 20. Ensemble Theatre, 3535 Main. For information, call 713-520-0055 or visit ensemblehouston.com. $26 to $44.
Thursdays, 7:30 p.m.; Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: Sept. 26. Continues through Oct. 20, 2013