I’ll be honest. This was my first time attending the Toronto Fringe Festival so I didn’t know what to expect. Walking into the theatre to see Michelle/Ryan’s “Ze”: Queer as f*ck!, I realized that I probably wasn’t expecting a very spry person wearing a jockey harness and big purple dildo doing stretches on the floor.
I’m not sure why I was surprised, being a patron of the queer arts scene. I’m used to sex toys being used as props, but this one person show brought so much more along with it than the usual shock factor. It stepped beyond the usual tropes of angry queers and vulgarities. Don’t get me wrong, it’s full of sex and, as its title reminds us, cursing.
The performance followed Michelle/Ryan as ze took the audience along their journey from the child of fundamentalist Evangelicals to their radically queer identity, including the title pronouns “Ze”. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable show, making use of the space, music, and props. At one point I was handed a slide whistle, one of many (cleaned) little noisemakers handed out to the audience members, and was asked to play a note on the scale to correspond to where we fell on the Kinsey Scale. At another point, volunteers were handed slips of papers and were asked to take part in acting out a scene from their seats.
“Ze” informs as much as it shocks, as ze adds queer education so that even the most conventional audience member can follow along. Along with the Kinsey Scale, Michelle/Ryan tells us about all the factors that lead into gender including hormones, sex organs, identity, and gender performance. The show delves into non-monogamy and kink as well, each one a stepping stone on their path to discovering genderqueer.
Beyond being shocking and educational, “Ze” was validating. As a gender non-conforming person, I walked in already knowing about terms like genderqueer and gender neutral pronouns. But being taken along that journey, one very different from mine, I was reminded of truths very dear to myself. I can only imagine what this show would have been like a couple years earlier, before I made my own self-discoveries, when I needed some affirmation and not to feel quite so alone. This would have been everything I needed.
I’d definitely recommend it, especially to the friends, family and allies of genderqueer folk. It lays the groundwork to start discussing and breaking down the gender binary. For other genderqueer or gender confused people, it can be the affirmation you didn’t know you needed.
- “Ze”: queer as f*ck! plays at the Tarragon Theatre Solo Room. (30 Bridgman Ave)
- Tickets are $12 at the door and in advance, and can be bought online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Honest Ed’s Alley, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Content Warnings: Mature Language, Sexual Content.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible through an alternate route. Please arrive early and speak with the House Manager.
- Wednesday June 29th, 06:30 pm
- Saturday July 2nd, 01:30 pm
- Sunday July 3rd, 08:00 pm
- Monday July 4th, 05:45 pm
- Tuesday July 5th, 05:00 pm
- Wednesday July 6th, 10:00 pm
- Friday July 8th, 03:30 pm
- Saturday July 9th, 09:45 pm