stephanie macdonald as jean
Last summer, during the 2011 Atlantic Fringe Festival I fell in love with a fictional girl named Jean. She is Jean, of the tale of Erin, Sandy, Jean and the stolen cock fame, from Lee-Anne Poole’s play Short Skirt Butch, which has recently returned to Halifax from a tour of such esteemed cites as Fredericton, Ottawa, Sudbury, Montreal and Toronto. It is playing right now at the Bus Stop Theatre in Halifax as part of the 2012 Queer Acts Festival running until Sunday July 22nd.
Jean is broken hearted in a small town, grappling with the breakup of her super secret “triad” with Erin and Sandy, the Queer couple who invited her into their home, their bed and their relationship until the moment she fell in love with them. Wallowing in their rejection leads Jean to go a little crazy, which leads to a dildo being kidnapped and this play is ultimately Jean’s, quite public, confession and quite possibly her redemption as well.
What I love so much about the way that Lee-Anne Poole has written this play is that our protagonist is such a strong and unique character, one who refuses to subscribe to any of the clichés or stereotypes of Queer culture, but instead lives and breathes in the depths of her own utterly human experience. This means that regardless of the genders or the numbers involved in the individual heartbreaks of the audience members, Jean’s emotional journey is one that cuts immediately to the heart with a beautiful mixture of vulnerability and humour.
Stephanie MacDonald plays Jean with a self deprecating earnestness and a mischievous command of the art of storytelling that unravels in parts into pure and sheepishness shyness as she delves deep into the entrails of her most basic needs and emotions. Director Bryden MacDonald keeps Short Skirt Butch as a tightly woven spell between Jean and her audience, but knows precisely which moments to have MacDonald turn or shy away, which make Jean all the more intriguing and all the more human.
This play reminds me quite a bit of Daniel MacIvor’s early one person shows in its narrative and its ability to pull audiences into it by the heartstrings, while Poole’s raw language and exploration of sexual identity and sexual polyamory are also reminiscent of the early work of Brad Fraser. It is a fun mixture. Poole, MacDonald and MacDonald make a powerful theatrical team and one that I am very much looking forward to seeing more from in the future.
If you haven’t seen Short Skirt Butch yet I highly recommend heading down to the Bus Stop Theatre (2203 Gottingen Street) and checking it out. It plays nightly at 10:30pm until Sunday June 22nd. For more information or to book your tickets please visit this website.