Playwright and performer Puelo Deir, a longtime philanthropic and influential member of Montreal’s queer theatre community, collaborates with director and producer Philippe Gobeille to present Old, Fat, and Fucked! Now What?, a personal storytelling feat that touches on a wide range of personal, political, and social issues that face gay men growing older. With comedic deliverance, Deir relates how both he and Montreal’s gay community have evolved since he first came to the city as a teenager.
Deir strikes a comedic balance between “real talk” and sarcasm that reaches the audience on a down-to-earth level. He is not afraid to greet latecomers and welcome them to a conversation about strippers. Overall, the performance is quite polished, with a funny use of props and frequent one-liners. While the humor is accessible to most audiences, jokes about Montreal in past decades and jokes specific to the gay male community will ring truest with other fifty-plus or queer Montrealers.
Although it takes the form of a personal monologue, this performance is far from self-indulgent. It is critical and educational on a number of fronts, especially given Deir’s immersion in and influential contributions to the gay community, such as co-founding Montreal’s original LGBTQ+ parade and the queer arts festival, to name a few. Deir begins his performance by introducing Montreal’s red light district and gay party scene as he experienced it in the early nineties.
He then describes his road to realizing he is “fucked,” by a chain of medical problems, their side effects, and the fears that accompany them. He narrates the moments in his life which “put a shot of truth in my denial cocktail.” More than just a biography, Deir presents the social and emotional trials that accompany obesity, AIDS, depression, and more. Above all, Deir struggles with being obsolete and the loss of sexual currency “in a community where being young and slim is the official standard of attraction.” He says being in his fifties is like being “a hundred and ten for gay men.”
Deir’s comedic deliverance of such heavy subjects makes them more accessible to audiences but even more heart-wrenching. At times, he goes from laughing with the audience at one of his lines to suddenly dropping truth-bombs. The message of the play seems to be that accepting one’s situation, and maybe even laughing about it, is all one can do in life.
The prop design of the show is quite effective. With little “decoration” set, the stage is only set with the props he needs to enhance his storytelling. Thus, the preset conglomeration of objects onstage is a humorous puzzle that unfolds. The audience is greeted by a blow-up naked man, a blow-up kiddy pool, and a green chalkboard for educational visuals, as well as many comedic surprises throughout the performance.
The sound design adds humour as well. The monologue is supported intermittently with cheesy infomercial music and with satirically re-worded Broadway classics.
This production is heart-wrenchingly funny for audiences and ultimately empowering for the performer. Despite wanting more, wanting to be different, Deir’s resolution is to accept his situation anyway. In total, Boy About Town succeeds in presenting an empowering, entertaining, and critical performance, as well as an enjoyable experience for everyone involved. No one will regret seeing this show.
Review by Montreal Theatre Hub Fringe Contributor Celine Cardineau
Boy About Town presents “Old, Fat, and Fucked! Now What?”
When: June 9 – 17, 2017
Where: MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels), 3680 Jeanne-Mance
Duration: 60 minutes
Tickets: www.montrealfringe.ca | 514.849.FEST (3378)
Official Media Partner of the 2017 St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival
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