Leslie Jordan in Fruit Fly
(© Matthew Brian Denman)
Leslie Jordan in Fruit Fly
(© Matthew Brian Denman)
Leslie Jordan has invited us to the foyer of his southern home for an evening of down-home humor and deep admiration for his momma in his new bawdy yet touching one-man show, Fruit Fly, now at the Celebration Theatre in Los Angeles.

As he attempts to see his life and choices through her mother's eyes, Jordan -- best known for his Emmy Award-winning work on Will & Grace -- proves to be a gifted storyteller, painting vivid pictures of his youth. (For those with less imagination, the photo album on the video screen shows the cast of characters in all their frilly dresses and coiffed hair.)

As might be expected, Jordan is a hoot, dishing gossip about everything from Chattanooga wives at the beauty shops to drag queens at the illegal speakeasies. But he doesn't shy away from drama, including how he disappointed his father with his "sissy" behavior, shocking his mother into hysterical blindness with his coming-out antics, and touching on his drug and alcohol addiction.

Still, the show is primarily about his mother, a woman of courage and wit who survived losing a husband at a young age and other extreme difficulties. His show culminates with the beautifully told take of a cruise he took with his twin sisters and his mother -- along with thousands of gay men -- which proved to be a moment of reckoning in their relationship.

One of the effective things about Jordan is that, thanks to his diminutive size and build, when he mimics his reactions as a child (like when his twin sisters' births steal his attention away), he doesn't seem like an adult mugging but actually regresses to childhood and gives the impression of childlike defiance.

He's also helped in his task by the seamless direction of David Galligan, and aided by Jimmy Cuomo' set, with its columns and trellises, which both captures the place of Jordan's youth and takes the audience to the haunted mansions of the plays of Jordan's idol, Tennessee Williams.