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Queer Theory 

A comedy about gender, identity, gender, gender, identity, and gender identity

Wednesday, Apr 23 2003
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Dr. Jeff Webster is an arrogant, gay professor of "queer theory" at a prominent West Coast university who harbors a prejudice against transsexuals until a bizarre condition of the gonads turns him, abruptly, into a woman. He calls his biological brother "Renée" (formerly Henry) for help. Renée is a transsexual -- a poised and sophisticated New Woman with a taste for tacky skirt suits to rival any flight attendant's. Renée smokes like Lauren Bacall, sings occasional cabaret numbers midscene, and engages her brother in debates that carry sex-identity questions to absurd, satirical lengths. To John Fisher fans this will all sound pretty normal, and his new play is a funny but sometimes maddening campus comedy about gender, identity, gender, gender, identity, and gender identity. As in most Fisher plays, the acting is slack; either the actors have gone totally undirected or they've been told, straight-out, not to act well. The big exception here is Matthew Martin as Renée, who shows what can happen to a Fisher script when someone bothers to utter the lines with conviction. Martin is actively fun to watch, especially during the cabaret numbers, and the surprise in the second act is also a lot of fun, but Fisher can't resist the urge to explain the point of his comic fantasy and teach a lesson, which turns large parts of Queer Theory into a tiresome staged lecture.

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