MKA’s Unsex Me
MKA: Theatre of New Writing @ The Tuxedo Cat – Green Room
11:30pm, Fri 15 Mar 2013
After I’d seen the other two shows produced by MKA (22 Short Plays and SOMA), I was delighted to see that an Artist-Friendly performance of Unsex Me was arranged for late-Friday night; whilst I would probably have seen it anyway, the opportunity to squeeze the show in and still see something else was too good to resist.
And so a motley band of performers and punters filed into the Green Room, with no attempt made to extract money from anyone in the crowd (the show was advertised as “free for artists”, but I was expecting to pay for a ticket). A recognisable cluster of TuxCat (and MKA) artists hung near the back of the ‘Room, but I parked in the second row… moments after I sat down, two muscle-bound blokes – in their tight-t-shirt best, with beers in hand – sat down next to me. I gave them a quick “Hello,” as I am wont to do, and attempted to engage them in chat… but it quickly became apparent that they weren’t here for this show, per se – they were here for “The Fringe”.
But more on them later.
Mark Wilson takes to the stage, bearded with a tartan dress allegedly made from a collection of kilts. He is an award-winning ballerina-come-actress, obsessed with her own media coverage, and preening herself for her upcoming role as Lady Macbeth, to be directed by her own much-lauded father. Presented as an media puff-piece, Wilson happily answers questions from her off-stage interviewer in a lightly effeminate manner, her bearded appearance in stark contrast to the content of her replies.
At this point, one of the lads next to me (let’s call him “Muscle Boy”) turns and speaks to me (note that I explicitly didn’t say ‘leaned over and whispered’): “Hey mate, this is pretty fucked up, right?” In reply, I offered my shut-up-I’m-trying-to-pay-attention hand gesture, so he turned and started discussing the perceived fucked-up-ness with his friend. Not loudly, but audible. First-row-head-turning audible. Actor-on-stage-glaring audible.
But Wilson continues the interview amidst the off-stage chatter, and the questions turn to her relationship with her lover, Guy. Wilson’s eyes sparkle, as she announces that Guy will be joining the interview; she walks into the audience and singles out Muscle Boy, a coldness taking over her gaze as she wordlessly makes it quite clear that it was time for him to put up or shut up.
“Aw yeah, alright,” Muscle Boy said, puffing his chest as he walked to the stage. Once seated, however, it was clear that he was out of his depth; Muscle Boy tried playing his few lines for laughs, but no-one was joining in. The scene generated a weird vibe… the atmosphere in the room became serious, tense. And after Wilson attempted to kiss Muscle Boy, he unceremoniously bolted from the stage, hand covering his mouth, laughing nervously… as he sat down, his mate was overtly careful not to touch him, and their conversation picked up again – “oh mate, this is fucking stupid.”
More turns, more glares.
Then Wilson reveals a condom, rolls it onto the microphone, and starts anally penetrating himself with it.
Just read the above line again, because I’ve tried write it as casually, as nonchalantly, as it actually happened.
And Muscle Boy and his mate… well. “What the fuck is he doing…?” was quickly followed by “Is he…?” and “This is fucked. You people are all fucking stupid” and a quick, chair-tumbling exit, accompanied by quiet chuckles from the remaining crowd.
Without the vocal distractions in the audience, the rest of the performance was a WTF-y treat, generating questions aplenty on media manipulation, sexuality, and gender identity. The denouement – a critical analysis of Lady Macbeth’s suicide, compared to the death of a child – is both coherent and bewildering… much like the rest of the performance, really.
Unsex Me is another one of those shows that makes me so glad of the performance opportunities that the Fringe provides… the fact that I went straight out and bought ticket for the Saturday night performance of the show (to give Mark & MKA some money for their work) should speak volumes.