The gay rap opera genre has come to Ottawa.
Bash’d, a “homo hip-hop” show conceived by stars Nathan Cuckow and Chris Craddock in Edmonton, has been on tour for the past three years — and it’s making the rounds at the Great Canadian Theatre Company in Ottawa until Jan. 31.
As described by Cuckow, Bash’d is a “high-energy musical gay love story.”
“It’s kind of like Romeo and Juliet, but with two guys,” he said. “It’s the story of Jack and Dillon, two guys who meet, fall in love, and get married. One of them is gay bashed, which prompts the other one to go out and seek revenge.”
While the Shakespearean parallels in the main plotline are clear, Bash’d takes a very different storytelling approach than the Bard would. By using hip-hop and rap as a vehicle to tell the story, Bash’d attempts to be equal parts funny and dramatically thought-provoking. The two emcees of the show are a pair of gay rappers named Feminem and T-bag, who provide the story’s narration.
“It’s a universal story,” said Cuckow. “If you know what its like to love somebody, it’s something you should be able to connect to regardless of what your sexual orientation is.”
The inspiration to use rap as the genre of music was satirical, ironic, and historical for Cuckow and Craddock.
Cuckow said rap is “typically a genre of music that glamorizes violence, so to explore a story about a gay couple using this music, there’s lots of different ways to connect it to our storytelling in a unique way.”
Cuckow also believes that rap and hip-hop are the “voice of social action and empowering to minorities,” while citing examples like Public Enemy and Grandmaster Flash as artists who successfully used the genre to connect people to a particular movement.
The show features solely Cuckow and Craddock playing all the roles, female and male, for the entire hour-long running time. While the characters of Feminem and T-bag were originally created at the turn of the millennium, Bash’d was conceived in 2006, around the time that former Alberta premier Ralph Klein tried to use the notwithstanding clause of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to bar gay marriage.
Cuckow believes that Bash’d has a little something for everyone and that it “works best with a mixed audience as possible, be they old, young, rich, poor, gay, straight. That’s the magic of it, when it’s all said and done. You have all these different types of people in the audience who feel connected.”
Want to go?
Bash’d runs at the Great Canadian Theatre Company until Jan. 31. Tickets are available by calling 613-236-5196.