Thursday, July 18, 2024

Theatre review: The Gay Heritage Project is theatrically dazzling

The Gay Heritage Project is filled with talented dynamic performers, in a fascinating and moving history of gay.

Three young white men – Damien Atkins, Paul Dunn and Andrew Kushnir – asked the question, “is there such a thing as gay heritage?” In The Gay History Project, the trio attempt to answer that question by playing multiple characters through inventive scenes that highlight their research on a range of topics. Vividly and quickly, they each hold conversations with themselves that are theatrically dazzling.

In one scene a conversation takes place between Leonardo Da Vinci, Christopher Marlowe and Tchaikovsky who talk about how they slept with young men, but do not consider the label ‘gay’ appropriate as it was a common practice in their time.

There are many poignant moments that are dealt with a straightforward and unsentimental tone including a sequence where a young man juxtaposes his coming out story with a gay prisoner on a Nazi death camp. In another, one of the men travels from the future to question Toronto Sun Editor Paul Worthington decision to publish the names of the men arrested in that city’s 1981 bath house raids.

There are music medleys of queer anthems, and some very effective videos and slides to add to the eclectic nature of the show. Director Ashlie Corcoran also stages the men so that they are always switching positions, and keeps the tone joyous and celebratory.

The men are so talented and it’s very playful watching them twist their bodies and faces and modulate their voices to each play dozens of characters. They also address the fact that they are three white men, having some fun with their apology for the lack of diversity.

The Gay Heritage Project is unabashedly Canadian and even some Vancouverites are mentioned. Filled with many ‘aha’ moments, a touch of absurdity, many strong laughs and even some tears, The Gay Heritage Project is an amusement park, complete with a roller coaster, tunnel of love, and some quiet reveals while grabbing a drink in the beer garden.

The Gay Heritage Project created and performed by Damien Atkins, Paul Dunn, & Andrew Kushnir. Directed by Ashlie Corcoran. The Cultch presentation of A Buddies in Bad Times Theatre production. On stage at The Cultch (1895 Venables St, Vancouver) until March 19. Visit for tickets and information.

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