DC's Demon Knights; Sexuality and Gender Done Right

A long time ago, I got my first exposure to a gay character in mainstream comics. Terry Berg, Kyle Rainer's assistant in his day job as an illustrator/comic artist, got brutally assaulted because he was gay, and for a few issues of Green Lantern, it was very upsetting to everybody.

When I was young, this was groundbreaking; first that gay people could exist in comics, and second that even in the realms of a comic book gay people were getting the shit pounded out of them, no questions asked. You know, normally in comics, victims brave their way through horrible circumstances like this one and get superpowers, or martial arts training, or something like that, so they'll never be victims again. Not Terry Berg! He woke up from his coma, thankfully, but he got jack-diddly-squat. Apparently he was going to be a Green Lantern or something, but his character arc was totally scrapped before DC execs had to think of the PR headache that a tertiary gay Lantern would have caused.

Growing up as a painfully conscious gay girl, I loved comics and it broke my little sparrow heart when I could find literally no characters that were like me in Batman or X-Men. When the Terry Berg arc happened, it became very clear to me that gay people served the exact same purpose in comics as they did in news reels; shock factor and sympathy.

It wasn't until I was a teenager and found Batwoman that I started to see gay characters that were empowered, in control, and not likely to be crucified for the sake of pathos. Gay characters were still very few and far between, a problem I'd hoped that the New 52 would fix. I will never ever expect the New 52 to fix anything ever again, but there have been a couple of triumphs. Take Demon Knights.


On Rebecca

The Rebecca billboard on Broadway
So my heart has been ripped out by the recent events surrounding Rebecca: Das Musical's troubled and ultimately aborted transfer to Broadway. That link is a pretty good rundown of what happened, but basically the producer, Ben Sprecher, was probably the victim of an audacious financial scam that left his production 4.5 million short of its budget. So now Rebecca's Broadway opening has been postponed indefinitely, and several hardworking theatre people are out of work.

I love this musical, in all its incarnations. In the past three years since I became acquainted with it, I have been longing for a production that was closer to where I live than Austria or Japan. There were myriads of rumours and workshops and aborted productions in the English-speaking world, but this was the closest an English production came to actually opening.

Yeah, I do feel betrayed. It's a vicarious betrayal, perhaps, but it hurts all the same. I can't even imagine the disappointment of those who had bought tickets to this show or those whose bread and butter were depending on its premiere and run. It's a gigantic loss.

I feel that anger is the only acceptable emotion to have towards the debacle, both towards the person or persons who perpetrated this despicable fraud and towards Ben Sprecher. The situation was severely mishandled by Mr Sprecher. There were livelihoods and reputations running on his decision-making, and he played fast and loose with them.

Though I try to be an optimist when it comes to the inevitable disappointments in theatre, the things that have happened lately serve only to upset me. An English-language production of this wonderful show seems unlikely now. I would not blame anyone if they decided to drop this project, and frankly the fact that Mr Sprecher wants to try producing Rebecca again isn't heartening.


At Last, A Play To Audit: Stratford's Cymbeline

Lately, theatre at Stratford has been focused more on the visuals and the concept rather than the rich text and characterization. This isn't a bad thing; there is always going to be a place for spectacle. But Shakespeare's audiences went to audit a play, not see one. Antoni Cimolino understands this succinctly, and makes the words the star of the show in Cymbeline.

Staged on the Tom Patterson's extreme thrust stage, Cymbeline is at first blush an extremely problematic play. With a twist-riddled story that feels an awful lot like Snow White, Cymbeline is often perceived as one of the weaker entries in Shakespeare's canon. Be that as it may, it has some thrilling passages of text. When delivered by a cast as strong as the one at Stratford is, this play is a fantastic experience.


Absolute Perfection: Stratford's Matchmaker

One of the aspects of reviewing I have the most difficulty with is what to write about in the case of a perfect production. Praising uniform amazingness gets tiring (this is an unspoken rule of criticism, I fear), and often does the production a disservice. So imagine my consternation when I came out of the Festival Theatre having seen The Matchmaker.

Goddamn it, this is a beautiful show.


How dare they?