Thursday, June 5, 2014

Review: (Toronto / Theatre) Queer Bathroom Stories

Tyson James, Chy Ryan Spain, Hallie Burt (photo by Dahlia Katz)
Fuck the Binary 
by Spencer Malthouse

A lot of things happen in public restrooms and it is time we discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of life behind the stick figures. Libido Productions Queer Bathroom Stories explores 100 experiences of gender identity and perception. The 70-minute production camply portrays these experiences with lots of humour and even more heart. 

I confess I am unfamiliar with Sheila Cavanagh’s academic work but I commend her writing for its cohesion and themes. This strength of the script is the diversity of the issues it explores. It does not paint all Queer people as victims but rather showcases the ups and downs of Queer identity. The play flows well, interspersing discussions of violence with heartwarming stories and Gay frivolity. The stories progress seamlessly and weave a profound picture.

The set, although simple, is deeply effective. We feel transported into the toilet (in a good way) and the lighting and direction make for some intriguing tableaux. The lighting itself is superb, colouring the emotions of the different stories and helping to create smooth transitions. Further, director Megan Watson really understands the importance of pacing and staging in a show. This play looks good and moves well. 

The greatest strength of this show is the actors. Well done, the three of you. You manage to create a wide range of believable and adorable characters in a plethora of situations. Your variations are distinct not only in voice and physicality but also in their interpretations of gender and in the smashing of the binary. 

The talent of this cast combined with the skill of the direction and the quality of the writing create a highly polished work. It is loaded with nuance and has a very positive message. Gender identity in the context of the binary suffers and simple conventions propagate the suffering. There is freedom from the binary and it is possible that that freedom may be found in the restructuring of those stick men and stick women on bathroom doors. Go see this play: it is both pertinent and compelling.  

May 31 - June 15

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