Review: Class (Progress Festival / Scottee and Friends Ltd.)

Scottee in ClassA “stunning piece of theatre” both brutally funny and honest

There are two more performances of Class, Scottee’s one-person show. Go see it. It’s amazing. I can’t remember the last time I laughed as hard as I did last night. My stomach muscles are still tender this morning. I also can’t remember the last time I worked as hard to not sob during a performance. Or was as angry.

Class is part of the Progress Festival at The Theatre Centre. Earlier this week I saw Scottee’s show, Working Class Dinner Party and really enjoyed it. We spent 90 minutes trying to decide how to define working class. We didn’t arrive at a definition.

In the publicity for Class, it says “This is a show for the middle class, those who didn’t grow up in poverty.” That makes it sound as if Scottee might be going to spend an hour berating us for the way we grew up.

He pretty much dispels that idea when he strides onto the stage in a red tracksuit, pristine white runners, and big sparkly heart-shaped hoop earrings. He stops to remove his shoes before he steps onto the square white rug that defines his set. He whispers into the mike and strikes dramatic poses and waits for out applause. When it isn’t loud enough, he instructs us in the art of applause and then starts over. All of this involves a lot of f-bombs.

Class is Scottee’s story about growing up poor in social housing in London, England. Not so different than growing up poor in social housing in Toronto.

It’s not the downer that it sounds like it could be. Yes, some of it will break your heart. Some of it may make you angry enough to want to run for political office and try to change the system. Some of it will make you laugh so hard that you think you’re going to pee your pants. Some of it will make you uncomfortable. Depending on who you are, you may be able to walk out after the performance completely unaffected by it. You should see it anyway.

Scottee is brutally funny, honest about the shame that comes from growing up poor, the damage that carries on into adulthood, the anger that you end up carrying around. The thing is, I didn’t feel that he was angry at the audience; his performance didn’t ever feel like a tirade. There was nothing didactic about it.

Class is a stunning piece of theatre. I felt it in my gut — not just from laughing. I highly recommend it.

Details:

  • Class is playing at The Theatre Centre (1115 Queen St W)
  • Performance Times: Fri, Feb 14 @ 7:00 pm, Sat, Feb 15 @ 9:00pm
  • Single tickets are $25. Three show Progress passes are available for $60
  • Tickets are available online, by phone at 416-538-0988, or in person at The Theatre Centre box office

Picture of Scottee by MJ Chapman