Arts & Entertainment
4 min

Fuckin’ more Fringe

Daedalus to Stephen Harper

DON'T TELL LAUREEN. Rob Salerno in Fucking Stephen Harper

There’s oodles of queer stuff at the Fringe. Here’s just a sampling.

Nicholas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni. Barbra Streisand and Pierre Trudeau. Rob Salerno and Stephen Harper. Like so many great superstar/politician romances, Rob and Stephen’s tender love story is one of fleeting glances, stolen moments… and formal sexual assault charges.

Details of the initial, incendiary coupling have remained strangely vague, but Salerno promises to reveal all in his new play Fucking Stephen Harper: How I Sexually Assaulted the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada and Where It Got Me.

It’s fiction, of course. But it’s the sort of thing one can easily imagine if a disenfranchised journalist/playwright/performer were to grab the balls of the most powerful man in Canada (Rick Mercer notwithstanding).

“I’ve been approaching this show as if this happened, and I got a book deal out of it and am now on a world tour promoting my book,” says Salerno, who is a regular contributor to Xtra. “After all, Stephen Harper has been fucking the queer community in the last three years, and we should fuck him back.”

Fucking Stephen Harper premieres Jul 2 at 8pm in the Glen Morris Theatre (4 Glen Morris St).

If the idea of fondling our country’s repugnant leader doesn’t immediately make you want to bathe in raw bleach then you’re probably strong enough to face a show where fathers try to get close to their sons. Real close.

Icarus Redux is a reimagining of the fabled winged son who flew too high for his father to save him. Playwright Sean O’Neill places Daedalus (Jonathan Whittaker) in modern-day Toronto, dealing with his recalcitrant son’s suicide. The grieving father is lost in fantasy as he relives life with Icarus (Alex Fiddes)  and his own unorthodox attempts at affection.

“It’s questioning the roles of father and son and the physical contact between them,” says O’Neill. “I think it’s important to look at that psychosexual power dynamic.

“I’m questioning the boundaries of affection and what is okay between father and son… how to touch one another and say, ‘I love you.’”

If the story registers on the NAMBLA ick-factor scale, it’s with conscious intent: O’Neill realizes that father/son sexuality is bound to raise a few eyebrows. “There will certainly be some audience members who will find this challenging,” he says. “I’m deathly afraid of my grandmother seeing the play.”

Icarus Redux opens Jul 2 at 6:30pm at St Vladimir’s (620 Spadina Ave).

A mother is convinced that her daughter’s lesbian lifestyle is fleeting in It’s Just a Phase, a musical by Marissa Gregoris.

Poor Alexis (played by Nicole Wilson) is freshly dumped, and it seems that mom (Tracey Beltrano) has been waiting for just the right moment to set up her daughter with some good old-fashioned peen. Unfortunately the hapless gal finds little support from her uber-closeted sister Helen (Gregoris) a butch dyke who swears she’s all about the cock.

“It’s a journey of the two sisters coming to terms with their sexuality and showing their parents that there are all sorts of different paths to happiness,” says Gregoris. “They all get their own fairytale ending.”

It’s Just a Phase, directed by Candice Gregoris and also featuring Nicole Stamp, Mark Nimeroski, Richard Anthony, Devon Hubka, Christian Jeffries, Rafi Lewis and Gabi Epstein, continues at Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace (16 Ryerson Ave) till Jul 12.

Every relationship, whether measured in months or minutes, plays host to a whole whack of emotional luggage. Shaun McCarthy hopes to lighten the load by sharing his own dating mishaps in Baggage: A Non-Musical Romp through One Catholic Gay Man’s Dating History (with Breasts for the Straight Men).

“They say write what you know,” says McCarthy, “and my God do I know dating.”

From a bookstore stalker to a man-purse-carrying Internet date, McCarthy says his romantic misadventures are like nothing we’ve heard before. “It’s like this first date I had with a guy, and he asked who I’d slept with and everything right up front,” McCarthy marvels. “I don’t want to know what baggage he’s carrying around, I just want to get to know him.”

McCarthy unpacks Baggage till Jul 12 at Factory Studio Theatre (125 Bathurst St).

Finally, no Fringe Festival would be complete with a good old-fashioned Tranny Tale.

Cindy (played by Jennifer Pogue) can’t put her finger on what’s troubling her lately. Is it the general misogynistic climate of the 1950s that’s got her down? Or could it be her inexplicable attraction to married next-door neighbour Betty (Lauren McGill)? The poor gal is flummoxed until a visit from her own personal Drag Fairy Godmother (played by Kwame Kyei-Boateng).

One quick bippity-bobbity-boo and Cindy is now the dashingly handsome he-man Cid, ready to go to the local town ball and win Betty’s heart. Betty’s troll husband Fred (Matthew Taylor) is no competition and the lady is swept off her feet by this gallant stranger. Sadly, all balls — be they dances or magically grafted testicles — must come to and end and Cindy must confess that it was she who charmed Betty.

Playwright Daniela (soon to be Dan) Vena originally wrote the piece for a playwriting course assignment, but found a lot of his own life mirrored in the fantasy story.

“I was coming to terms with myself as a trans man,” says Vena. “It was really cathartic for me to express that journey in a way that’s funny instead of tragic.”

Vena is aware that putting his personal life on public view is an irrevocable, but he feels up to the challenge. “There’s no escaping it now,” he says, “we’ve advertised it and put up posters!”

Jesslyn Miller codirects A Tranny Tale, which opens Jul 2 at 10:30pm in the Factory Studio Theatre.