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COMING OUT was originally produced at The Abbey Theater of Dublin, in Dublin, Ohio, October 4-19, 2013, by Creatures Plays Corporation, and was presented by special arrangement with Riverdale Literary Holdings, Inc.

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The Characters

Professor Robert “Bob” Anderson, DPhil.

Age 64, and a full professor of philosophy and department head at a small, central Ohio liberal arts college, Bob received his doctorate at Balliol College, Oxford. He has lived in Ohio for 38 years, and has been a US citizen for the last 30. The third son of noted British theoretical physicist Lord Edward Anderson, Bob has established his own reputation as a humanist philosopher, and is the author of several books, including his most recent, The History of Gods: Essays on the Persistence of Middle Eastern Mythology in Modern Times. His atheism is a point of contention with his eldest son, James, who is wont to remind his father of the looming gates of hell. Bob may have a tendency to drink too much, but as we only see him on his 40th wedding anniversary, when he is anticipating a visit from James (who could make anyone want to drink) and his two other children, perhaps we should give him the benefit of the doubt. He has had several affairs during his long marriage, but has never seriously thought of leaving his wife.

Professor Susan Morton Anderson, PhD.

With a PhD in English Literature from Ohio State, Susan teaches at the same college as her husband. She met Bob while taking part of an exchange program between Ohio State and St. Hilda’s College, Oxford during her sophomore year, and is six years younger than her husband at 58. Married in England, Susan continued her education after Bob got his DPhil and they moved to Ohio. The mother of three, Susan somehow always managed to tolerate her husband’s affairs, as often as not countering them with affairs of her own. Like Bob, she has never really considered divorce, and obviously expects to remain married until one of them dies. She’s not religious, but finds some degree of comfort in the idea of God and heaven. Generally a rather practical woman, she clearly wishes her husband and son would stop arguing about religion.

Reverend James Anderson, DD.

Bob and Susan’s eldest son, James is the pastor of a 6,000 family mega-church in the Dallas suburbs, as well as host of a daily one hour television show that runs on a Christian cable network in which he is the majority stockholder. The 37-year-old minister is the product of a small Bible College, and has an extremely narrow minded outlook on most issues. He seems pleasant enough at first, if a little stuffy. His sparring with his father over religion appears to be motivated by a sincere desire to bring his father into the fold. But when his younger brother lets it be know that he’s gay, James becomes much louder and even more narrow minded. A fascinating, if somewhat off putting character. Repugnant though his philosophy may be, and  no matter how reprehensible his behavior, he somehow always believes that he is in the right, and just doing what God wants him to do.

Karen Dalwyn Anderson

James’ wife. At 26, she is considerably younger than her husband. Pretty, but downplays her attractiveness to some extent. Dresses stylishly but modestly. In effect, she looks like the stock image of a televangelist’s wife, though perhaps with a more modern hairstyle. She is thoroughly under her husband’s thumb, though ultimately she will come into her own. Karen is a fascinating character, both shy and self-effacing, yet ultimately exploding to reveal the stronger, and far more troubled, young woman behind the meek facade. Married James almost as soon as she graduated from high school. They had one son, who died in infancy, and a sense of guilt about that has nagged her for years.

Ellen Anderson Winston

Bob and Susan’s daughter, she is the youngest child at 29. Ellen tries to see both sides of every issue, though in the fight between James and his brother, she naturally sides with George and his partner. Happily married, her only disappointment so far is that she’s had no children. Her suggestion that she’s considering in vitro is attacked by the fundamentalist James, who believes the procedure involves murder. Lives in Canton.

Mark Winston, MD

Ellen’s husband, age 30. Mark says very little, and when the fighting starts makes it very clear he would prefer to be almost anywhere else. He loves his wife, and is only willing to stay because she insists. Seems more comfortable talking about traffic problems than anything important. Obstetrician by profession, though this isn’t mentioned in the play.

George Anderson, CPA

Bob and Susan’s younger son and middle child, age 35. He is a CPA by profession, and the only one of the three children who still lives in the area where he grew up. Met his partner when he was hired to audit an estate. George is gay, but most people would probably presume otherwise, not because he makes any real effort to hide his sexuality, but because his general attitude and demeanor is thoroughly ordinary. Captain of his high school football team, he now admits to simultaneously dating a cheerleader and one of the tackles. His announcement that he plans to move to New York and marry his partner sets off most of the fireworks.

Eric Simpson

George’s roommate and partner, 36. Eric is an attorney, specializing in family law. Like George, he seems thoroughly ordinary, perhaps even a little shy at first. He can also be very aggressive, particularly when involved in any sort of legal dispute. It’s Eric who suggests that James in probably bisexual, based on James’ belief that people can make a “choice” to be gay.

Carol Burgess

Carol is 25, and has been Bob’s secretary for several years. She is an extremely pretty young woman, attractive enough to intimidate men her own age. She has been having an affair with Bob for several months, and has just discovered she’s pregnant.