Stage Notes: The All-American Genderf*ck Cabaret

Tom Murrin
Mariah MacCarthy writes plays about sex and gender, and this revival of her very popular 2010 show, The All-American Genderf*ck Cabaret, directed by Heidi Handelsman, is part of the inaugural project from Purple Rep, a new theater company founded by MacCarthy and fellow playwright, Larry Kunofsky; it plays in repertory with Kunofsky's The Un-Marrying Project. Both works are a part of the all-welcoming "Gay Plays for Straight People (and also gay people)".  I spoke with MacCarthy.

Hi Mariah.  For my own edification, can I ask you to define gender-fuck?
Gender-fucking is defying the traditional proscriptions for how we are supposed to perform gender.

Alright.  So how many performers do we have here?
It's an ensemble piece, a play with a cabaret.  There are nine characters.  The central character is an androgynous M.C., Taylor, who is kind of omnipotent and magical.  We joke that his character is a unicorn.  And the other eight characters embody different gender archetypes.  So you have the girly-girl, the manly-man, the feminist lesbian and the gay best friend.  There's the nice guy that everybody thinks is gay, the tomboy that everybody thinks is a lesbian, and a guy and a girl who both sleep around a lot.

So what are we going to see these characters do?
I'm not going to say who falls in and out of love.  You will have to come to the show to see that for yourself.  I will say that there are break-up dances; one is to Cher's song, "Believe."  There are people bonding over their love for George Michael.  There are also several dream sequences.  We get different nightmares, but we see happy dreams too.  The pivotal scene that brings everyone together, at the middle of the piece, is the '90s dance party.

Tell me about the M.C. character.
Taylor, the M.C., has interactions with each of the characters.  He breaks each person down and gets them to open up.  Taylor does not identify as either male or female, so he is the ultimate gender-fuck.

So we get to know these people from Taylor interacting with them, and then at the party we get a different look at all of them together?
Like the tough girl, the tomboy; she comes to the party looking gorgeous and sexy, a complete changeover.  There's also a fist fight between the gay guy and the manly-man, and it doesn't go down the way you'd expect it to.  Also, Taylor is magical and he can manipulate time.  So you see Gwen, the woman who sleeps with everybody, and Dick, the manly-man, and you see their scene play out.  And then Taylor makes them go back in time, and you see the same scene, only the two characters speak each other's lines; they switch lines, and  switch roles.

I like that.  How long is the show?
It's two hours with an intermission.

The Paradise Factory, 64 E. 4th St., (800) 838-3006. April 8-30, performances: Apr. 16, 20, 22, 26, 28, 30 at 8 p.m.; Apr. 23, 24 at 2 p.m. $18. Tickets

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