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Queering The All American Genderf*ck Cabaret: In Review...

Queering The All American Genderf*ck Cabaret: In Review...

The world premiere of the all-american genderf*ck cabaret, a new written play by Mariah MacCarthy and directed by Krystal Banzon recently played in NYC's East Village iconic theater venue, UNDER St. Marks.The press for this play billed is as an "outrageous cabaret [where] gender stereotypes are plucked straight from pop culture: a Girly Girl, a Manly Man, a Nice Guy, a Gay Best Friend, a Slut, a Feminist Lesbian, and a Tomboy.

The world premiere of the all-american genderf*ck cabaret, a new written play by Mariah MacCarthy and directed by Krystal Banzon recently played in NYC's East Village iconic theater venue, UNDER St. Marks.

The press for this play billed is as an "outrageous cabaret [where] gender stereotypes are plucked straight from pop culture: a Girly Girl, a Manly Man, a Nice Guy, a Gay Best Friend, a Slut, a Feminist Lesbian, and a Tomboy. Guided by an androgynous, omnipotent MC intent on their redemption, they embark on eight sexy, hilarious journeys from stereotypes to Human Beings. Along the way, hearts are broken, Pomeranians are purchased, the Pussies of America make their stand, and everyone does the "Single Ladies" dance. Biting yet compassionate, this epic ensemble piece skewers everything from feminism to sexting; from acquaintance rape to infidelity; from homophobia and assault, to loneliness and the bass-ackwards ways we seek affection--just to name a few. The sharp edges of caricature soften; connection replaces spectacle; and men, women, and none-of-the-aboves discover that in a polarized world of pink versus blue, everyone deserves Technicolor."

What a great tagline!

And indeed, all of these stereotypes were brought to us front and center and then expertly skewered, cooked and picked apart by MacCarthy.

More play than cabaret, the all-american genderf*ck cabaret was supremely entertaining. And, although there was nothing particularly revolutionary about the commentary on male / female relations, genderqueer culture or even lesbian-feminism, the production was well cast, well played and well executed. Some scenes made the audience uncomfortable and when that happened the MC would pull the curtain-or rather flip the lights-and save us from the awkwardness of witnessing, say, a rape scene. I could have sat through the discomfort for some revelation to be made without having it interrupted by the MC saying "Oops, that's awkward," which it clearly was, but that was the point, too. And, as a perhaps stereotypical Feminist Lesbian, I would have liked to see the audience pushed to get a bit more prickly and uncomfortable with some of the silence, awkwardness and violence between and among men and women-and all others genders or not-genders-that indeed still adhere in American society.

But, I also want to add that it is indeed inspiring that playwrights (at least female playwrights) are still analyzing and deconstructing gender, sexism and heterosexism and presenting their "findings" in unique formats such as the all-american genderf*ck cabaret.

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I expected more genderfuck i.e. genderqueer, but maybe that is my own queer bias talking. The playwright's portrayal of the "dance" of heterosexuality was spot-on. One situation wherein a male character was trying to pick up a female character seemed really icky and scary, but when "rewound" and replayed with the girl trying to pick up the guy, it just seemed pathetic

One hilarious scene had Kate the Feminist Lesbian lecturing a bunch of men about how treating women as equals would increase women's production and therefore lead to more money made for everyone. Kate represented PA, Pussies of America, and reclaimed pussy as a word to describe bravery and courage rather than slander cowards which, in her vernacular, were instead ball sacs!

In the end, playwright MacCarthy's read on gender was an amazingly entertaining journey through oft-treaded territory with some unexpected surprises, funny twists, tragicomic turns and all types of u-turns. I hope this play finds a home Off Broadway or somehow manages to tour nationally to further illuminate the muddled terrain of gender in America circa 2010.

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Stephanie Schroeder