jay whitehead & adam beauchesne
From Lethbridge, Alberta and Theatre Outré comes the beautiful, sexy, smart, hilarious play Unsex’d by Daniel Judes and Jay Whitehead directed by New Waterford’s own Richie Wilcox.
It is a long held superstition that it is bad luck to say the name of Shakespeare’s MacBeth in the theatre and Unsex’d explores one possible reason why. Wilburn Hussey is an aging boy actress who has been the protégé and muse to inspire and debut a multitude of Shakespeare’s female protagonists. All Hell breaks loose when he conjures up the meddling influence of the spirits and unwittingly invites his competition, Humphrey Hughes, into the Acting Company and, ultimately, Shakespeare’s trousers. Suddenly obsessed with a jealous terror at the idea of being replaced by Humphrey, Wilburn finds himself morphing from Juliet into one of the Weird Sisters as the once naive Humphrey unleashes his inner Lady MacBeth.
The dynamic between these two is very reminiscent of socialite and Reality Star BFF couplings like that of Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, two people who seem to simultaneously want to smother one another and morph into the other as the world watches. Indeed, the way that Wilburn and Humphrey rehearse the very artificial and performative Elizabethan acting style is suggestive of the ways these kind of television stars attempt to create their own personas and to perform the appearance of reality when in fact it is not rooted in any real depth or substance at all. Judes and Whitehead draw incredible parallels between the societies of Elizabethan England and Contemporary North America and our obsession with exteriors, appearances and illusions.
The writing of this play is glorious. The dialogue is sharp, biting, witty, there are continual references to Shakespeare’s own words, but also smart anachronistic contemporary pop culture references and silly use of verse, to create a beautiful post-modern composite of a very Queer, very fun, very cheeky, homage to the theatre Gods and a Shakespearean world that becomes immediately familiar to us. Simultaneously Unsex’d is an insightful commentary on contemporary culture, a joyful and clever romp exulting hags and Queens and a strong case to propose that perhaps humanity has not changed so irrevocably in the last four hundred years and that there is not such a disparity after all between the audience for a venerated work like MacBeth and those who venerate the Kardashians.
Adam Beauchesne is adorable as innocent, pretty little Humphrey and then grows chillingly cold and haughty as the play progresses. Jay Whitehead gives an incredible performance as Wilburn Hussey whose emotions swing from extreme to extreme, always betraying a subtle sense of vulnerability and a shiny sense of dramatics. Together they have beautiful chemistry of adoration, sexual tension, revulsion and envy. They are aided in their flawless theatrics by the technical proficiencies of Aaron Collier, Rob Stanford and David Barrus.
Unsex’d is a delight and a joy to watch and exactly the type of show that I hope to see at a Fringe Festival. The rest of the country will be hearing about this play for certain and I cannot wait to see where else in the world it will go!
UnSex’d plays at the Bus Stop Theatre (2203 Gottingen Street) as part of the Atlantic Fringe Festival at the following times:
Sunday, September 1st: 9:45 pm
Monday, September 2nd: 4:45pm
Tuesday, September 3rd: 9:45 pm
Wednesday, September 4th: 7:00 pm
Thursday, September 5th: 7:00 pm
Friday, September 6th: 10:30 pm
Tickets are $10.00 and are available in advance online at this website or 30 minutes before each show at the venue on the day of the performance. All tickets bought in person must be purchased with either cash or credit. For more information please visit this website or call 902.422.7604 between 10:00am and 5:00pm.