During an aside last night by Tiffany Roberts, host of this year's Queertopia at Intermedia Arts, she acknowledged a typo in the show's subtitle, "QUEEREVOLUTION." Apparently, there has been some confusion about whether that meant "queer revolution" or "queer evolution." While both meanings could definitely fit the mood of the show, which is co-presented with Bedlam Theatre, "evolution" seems a more appropriate signifier for this edition of the festival as performers probe, celebrate, and explore queer identity and community in a rollicking evening of entertainment.
Nicole M. Smith
Photo courtesy Intermedia Arts
As host, Roberts gets off to a rocky start. Her raunchy version of "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid has the right idea with its cock rings, strap-ons, and dildos, but her clowning self-deprecation doesn't quite make up for the shaky and not over-the-top enough rendition of the song. Once past the opening number, though, Roberts turns out to be a delightful emcee, interacting with the audience with aplomb and adding just the right mix of comic timing and innuendo. She sets a casual but playful tone for the evening, paving the way for a mix of wacky antics, earnest identity pieces, and some moments that blow the audience away.
Part of what makes Queertopia so great is the inclusive feeling it nurtures, eminating a sense that all are welcome. Toward that end, there's a diverse range of acts -- from green performers and pieces that are really works-in-progress to showstoppers that feature seasoned artists -- all of whom are embraced by an encouraging and supportive audience. Everyone is welcome at Queertopia, especially given that one of the driving themes of the show this year is building community and supporting each other. Diversity also plays out in the mix of ethnic and racial identities of the performers, as well as an aesthetic that embraces all gender and sexual identities on the spectrum.
Queertopia audience at opening
Photo courtesy Bedlam Theatre
Though it gets off to a slow start, the show really gets its footing with the appearance of Supergroup, featuring Erin Search-Wells as Sally, the nerdy standup comic who breezes through a hilariously post-modern standup routine, complete with a well-timed Anne Frank joke. She soon ditches her monologue to pull off the most awkward striptease you will ever see. First, she removes her blazer to reveal her turtleneck. Then she takes that off (while leaving her mom pants as they are), so that we get our most naked view of the show, though she does keep covered with a couple of band-aids to prevent chafing. If that weren't climactic enough, the audience then gets treated to a Barbara Walters impression and a musical number with two other performers in drag to boot.
Another highlight of the evening comes in the second act when Emily Zimmer and Stephanie Molstad present "Love in the Undergrowth," a piece that Zimmer created with Jim Domenick (who performs Molstad's role on Friday and Saturday). Framed as an old-timey science program, the work features Zimmer as an old British explorer who describes the fascinating behavior and appearance of a sloth. Eventually, he decides to abandon his role as outside observer, and the mustachioed gentleman gives in to his desires and gets some lovey time up in a branch and down a slithery streak of mucous represented by an aerial silk. The whole thing is very sexy and goofy with metaphors none too hidden and a message of carpe diem.
There aren't any sledgehammer political pieces in this show, though there are political moments. Mostly, the artists mine their personal stories, desires, hopes, and relationships, whether directly, such as Hector Chevarria and Stacy Schultz's "Secluded Corner," or more abstractly as in Chris Garza's "Garza Used Charm! It's Not Very Effective," a movement piece that includes Lazer Goese frolicking about in a costume made of balloons and inflatable water toys, or "So I Borrowed a Rainbow Today," created and performed by Chitra Vairavan, which leaves the audience aghast at the performer's immense skill and downright bendiness. All the artists, through working in a variety of styles and disciplines, navigate their internal journeys while creating an ecosystem of tolerance and freedom.
7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday
$12/$15 at the door