Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Gay highlights of the Toronto Fringe Festival

Evelyn Reese's Walking Tour, Craplicker and more

EVELYN REESE’S WALKING TOUR

Evelyn Reese is the sort of woman you might meet at bingo: massive tinted glasses, polyester pantsuit and a voice that could cut through tempered steel. She’s also the creation of playwright/actor Susan Fischer, and will make her third appearance at this year’s Fringe. Evelyn Reese’s Walking Tour is part of the festival’s BYOV (Bring Your Own Venue) series, where creators mount their performances outside of the Fringe’s traditional spaces.

As Reese, Fischer plans to tour small audiences around the character’s favourite Bloor St haunts. They’ll pop into stores and coffee shops as Evelyn holds forth on topics ranging from custom-fitted brassieres to her best friend and “poofter,” Reynold.

“It’s total satire,” says Fischer. “That’s what I love about it. It’s an opportunity to say things that are not necessarily homophobic, but maybe a little clued out or judgmental.

“It’s so much fun to be a lesbian playing a crazy straight woman who thinks of herself as very liberal but comes out with the most politically incorrect things.”

Like Archie Bunker or Tracey Ullman’s Ruby Romaine, Fischer’s lippy alter ego skewers intolerance by speaking from the side of uninformed — but genial — ignorance.

“I think it’s important for audiences to be able to like Evelyn,” says Fischer. “She may say things that she shouldn’t, like calling gay men ‘poofters,’ but the reality is that her best friend is gay and she’s completely fine with it.”

Evelyn Reese’s Walking Tour departs from the Fringe Club (581 Bloor St W at Bathurst) at 6:30pm on Wed, June 30.

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CRAPLICKER

Coming out is sort of like edging a penis: the more you prolong it, the harder it gets. Josh (played by Caden Douglas) is 28 years old, gay and still very much in the closet to his family. Moving to Toronto has meant a whole new world of sexual exploration and supportive community, but a recent life crisis has Josh’s friends encouraging him to come clean with the folks back home. His journey to honesty is told in Craplicker, a new play by Steven Gallagher.

“My coming out was turning 30,” confesses Gallagher, who drew from his own experiences in creating the piece. “I’m 46 now, so when I wrote the show I wasn’t sure whether this story is even still relevant these days.”

It wasn’t until a gay friend disclosed that he was about to come out to his mother before marrying his lover that Gallagher realized there are still lots of queer folks playing it straight for family.

Gallagher’s own experience proved mercifully uneventful, with unconditional support expressed by friends and family back in rural Quebec. Like Josh, his decision to come out was also tied to a life-changing experience.

“I had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer,” says Gallagher, who has been cancer-free for 10 years. “I just decided I wasn’t going to live this way any more; how could I continue to lie?”

Director Mary Francis Moore (The Catering Queen) was particularly drawn to Gallagher’s light-hearted approach to some of Craplicker’s heavier themes.

“Steven takes something big like cancer and coming out and makes you laugh at it without melodrama,” says Moore, who plans to bring her five-year-old son to see the show. “It’s a beautiful story about self-expression… how your friends become your family, and how they can help you to use your own voice.”

Craplicker opens Wed, June 30 at 7pm in Tarragon Theatre’s Mainspace.

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D’BI YOUNG!

D’bi young’s word! sound! powah! is the third installment of the powerful actor/performer’s biomyth-monodrama dub trilogy. Like its predecessors, blood.claat and benu, this new show charts three generations of Jamaican women and their stories of identity, love, abuse and reconciliation.

Opening Wed, June 30 at 10:30pm in Theatre Passe Muraille’s Mainspace.