Gavin Crawford’s Razor-Sharp Satire Stretches His Range And Delights Toronto Audiences
Coming home from Gavin Crawford: Sh**ing Rainbows at Buddies last night, our babysitter asked: is it a drag show? Well, no. I mean, he dresses in drag but, no, not a drag show. Is it a concert? Well, no. I mean, he sings, but no.
This of course begs the question: well, then, what kind of a show is it? It’s a truly hilarious, flagrantly nerdy, relentlessly pointed, extravagantly f**king queer show, that’s what kind it is. It’s what Pride should be: political and fabulous and campy and self-aware and fearless. Not corporate, not blunted by the “family friendliness” imperative, and yet still sharply satirical of institutions of power and cultural memes.
Yes, I’m enthusiastic. Crawford plays characters ranging from Cher to Gollum in this Pride season tour de force, and what elevates his work to greatness, in my view, is this: not only is each character well created, but each one provides the vehicle for sharp, funny social commentary on life in Toronto – especially around the Pride season. Intermittently flanked by two adorable go-go boys and ably accompanied, Crawford’s performance is polished. With a rainbow drapery and a few boxes, the show as a whole feels minimalist but well-crafted as he speaks – and sings! – in character, writing clever lyrics to songs popularized by the characters he plays. Each of his accents and voices sets up an entire premise, and his aptitude for mimicry is impressive, not only in the accent but also in pace, word choices and so on.
Sh**ting Rainbows remains difficult to categorize, artistically. It’s funny but not stand up comedy, there’s drag but it’s not a drag show, and so on. I wonder whether that accounted for the slightly lighter crowd than I’ve seen at some recent Pride Month shows at Buddies. But everyone who stayed home missed out on some classic Crawford fun, so – don’t be among them next time.
- Gavin Crawford: Sh**ing Rainbows played 20 & 21 June at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander Street as part of their June Queer Pride 2013 programming.
Photograph of Gavin Crawford provided by Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.