BASH’d – A Gay Rap Opera : Theatre Passe Murialle

By Megan Mooney

Photo of Chris Craddock, Nathan Cuckow by Alex Phelipe

BASH’d has already received huge critical acclaim as it has wandered accross different places in North America. Right now it’s on a Canadian tour, and is at Theatre Passe Murialle until October 31, 2009.

Described as a Gay Rap Opera, or a Hiphopera, it’s something you probably haven’t seen before. In fact, in the introduction by two hip hop performers – FEMINEM & T-BAG – there’s a nod to the obvious “but they’re gay, and they’re white!” Two things that one generally doesn’t associate with hip hop.

In a rich hip hop tradition, the language in this is not for the faint of heart. But don’t let that deter you, because, crass though it may be, the use of language in this is wonderful. John was my show-partner for this one and when we were talking about it afterwards he said “No matter what you think of the show, it’s hard to deny that it was a virtuoso performance. I can’t begin to imagine being able to do that.”

In case that implied that other than that we didn’t like the show, to the contrary, we both really enjoyed it. And John’s right, the performances were bang on. In fact, the whole production was bang on. This is the kind of thing that people won’t necessarily notice, because it’s done well, but there was some great sound design in this show. Everything was clear and easy to follow, microphones turned off in the split second before yelling from the stage that, frankly, would have hurt if the mics were still on. All in all it was a very very polished piece.

So, what should you expect if you go? Well, as you might expect, the whole thing is performed in verse, it’s a hip hop opera after all. This means at times I felt a tiny bit overwhelmed because it takes a bit more concentration to follow along at times. But, even though there’s more concentration involved, it’s also a hell of a lot of fun, which makes the concentration well worth while. There are some nicely executed simple dance moves, but don’t expect to feel like you’re watching a music video.

One of the things John said that was interesting was that at one point he was so into the story that he forgot that it was in verse, that it was rap instead of straight dialogue. That didn’t happen to me, but I think the fact that John stopped noticing the verse speaks to the strength of the universality of the story. The story is a familiar one. A love story cum tragedy. In fact, one of John’s comments was that it was a refreshing take on pretty familiar subject matter. He loved that the whole show was preformed through hip hop. So did I. In fact, I kind of liked the performances more than the script.

Interestingly, in other shows we’ve gone to together John has felt some shows have, as he says “suffered from important play syndrome”, when I haven’t felt that at all. And in this case, when I said that for me there were elements that felt like that to me, he said that for him it didn’t at all. Which is of course the joy of theatre. Everyone sees a different play, even if it is at the same performance. As my new assistant editor, Darryl D’Souza, said to me in a conversation the other day “it’s as though every time you see a show you’re writing the show because your experiences makes it a different show from the show that is being experienced by everyone else in the audience”. 

In fact, one of the things in the show that I loved was the epitaph at the end, (I won’t go into too much detail about it), but John didn’t. He felt like it was too much, that was the part of the play that had a bit of “important play syndrome” going on. Whereas, I found it very moving. And, in describing it to other folks, I’ve gotten pretty much a 50/50 split on whether they’d like it, or it would make it feel over the top.

Bottom line is, BASH’d is a super fun take on a classic theme. You’re not likely to see anything quite like it, and, if by chance you do, I doubt it would be nearly as well executed. If you have the chance to, then check it out. I highly recommend this. Plus, since it starts at 7:30 and you’re out of the theatre before 9, there’s time for a quick drink before you go home, which is always a nice thing.

Details
– BASH’d plays at Theatre Passe Muraille (15 Ryerson) until October 31, 2009
– Shows run Tuesday to Saturday at 7:30pm, with an additional matinee on Saturdays at 2:30pm
– Tickets are $30 Tuesday to Thursday; $35 Friday and Saturday, and the Saturday matinee is PWYC (or, $15 if booked in advance). Student, Senior and group rates available, phone to enquire
– Tickets are available through www.artsboxoffice.ca or by phone at 416-504-7529

Photo of Chris Craddock and Nathan Cuckow by Alex Phelipe