Butch: A Queen’s Struggle to Become a King
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2007
The debut one-man show from the creator of The Gaydar Diaries. A romantic liaison with a closeted, ultra-masculine army captain inspires Menno to ‘butch up’ a bit. But his feminine side doesn’t take too kindly to his growing manhood, and soon sharpens her claws to stage a spectacular revolt
From the creator of last year’s The Gaydar Diaries, Dutch actor and writer Menno Kuijper delivers a heartfelt exploration of what it means to be a gay man and the dichotomy of the masculine and the feminine within him.
The one-man play opens with Menno (the character) in a kimono preparing for a date with a butch soldier; one who appears to still be obscured behind the coats hanging in his closet. Menno is unsure whether they are actually going on a date; he relates the story of their last date and subsequent love-making and how wonderful it was - but then reveals he was left hanging. The problem is that Soldier wants Menno to butch up and the endless press ups and raw eggs are having little effect.
Performed with a mixture of song and monologue with a touch of audience interaction, Butch is an absorbing, quite beautiful narrative that is gently humorous rather than raucously so.
In an interesting reversal of the nation’s paranoia over obesity and the media obsession with the size zero figure, Kuijper voices the ‘skinny’ who desires to put on weight. Though there appears to be little wrong with Kuijper’s physical form, Menno is paranoid about his weight, stepping on the scales only for their ethereal voice to inquire whether he has actually got on them yet.
His lover – whom it’s easy to dislike from the offset due to his ridiculous demands on our likeable protagonist – is bullying in his approach, making digs at Menno’s feminine side; criticising Menno’s liking for waving his arms in the air when he dances to Kylie and favouring Bacardi Breezer rather than pints of beer. ‘I want people to see my true colours but people only see pink,’ Menno pleads.
In one particularly amusing scene, the two sides of his personality tussle for dominance as represented by Barbie and Action Man and elsewhere they are played out through lyrical re workings of the Beatles’ Let It Be and Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind.
All in all, Butch makes for a feel-good hour performed with skill and warmth.
Reviewed by: Marissa Burgess