Thomas Burns Scully
The Planet Connections festival presents a timely (if unseasonal) tale of thoroughly non-normative Christmas.
This weekend, the New York streets, and the world at large, were abuzz with Pride, and the Supreme Court’s legalization of Gay Marriage in all fifty states. It’s been a very gay few days, in the best sense of the word. I didn’t go to pride myself due to my inborn fear of parades, but I felt the need to do something LGBTQ-related so that I could share in the spirit of things. To that end, I wandered down to The Paradise Factory on 4th street, to take in ‘Blanche on a Winter’s Eve’. In exchange for my wandering, I was given an enjoyable evening’s theatre. Read on for the gruesome details…
‘Blanche on a Winter’s Eve’ is a one-man/woman show, written and performed by J.P. Makowski and directed by Danny Gorman. It is the semi-light-hearted story of a gay transvestite, the titular ‘Blanche’, who has a heavenly vision on Christmas Eve. In said heavenly vision, an apparition of Jesus tells Blanche that she will find true love this night. And that she will find it through the orgasmic pleasure of perfect sex. Far be it from her to refuse heaven’s calling, Blanche takes to the streets of New York and pursues every possible avenue to get laid and, hence, find the love of her life. What could be simpler?
‘Blanche’ was produced in partnership with Gay Men’s Health Crisis as part of the Planet Connections theatre festival. With credentials like that, I was worried that I might be in for a lecture instead of a show. Thankfully, that was not the case. ‘Blanche’ is, by and large, actually a fairly simple story. Imagine a sex-farce written by Tennessee Williams and Tony Kushner, and performed like a standup act. That wouldn’t be too far from the mark here. Makowski’s writing is fun, flamboyant and catty, but not without a decent helping of emotional guts either. At its heart, Blanche’s tale is a story of New York City loneliness. Something anyone who’s lived in the city for long enough has experienced. It nicely touching and an endearing kind of funny.
Makowski’s performance does his writing work justice. First off, he’s an incredibly striking performer to look at, particularly in this role. He’s a taller man with a completely shaved head. When that form is crammed in to a skin-colored corset and underpants combo, you’ve got a look that flirts with the Gilliam-esque. He speaks his lines well, in a pitched southern-drawl reminiscent of the Williams character Blanche shares her name with. He knows how to get a laugh, and knows how to get you to care about a character. He’s well suited to this role, and that creates a great show for the audience to look at.
Between Makowski and Gorman, a small, neat little word has been created in the underground theatre known as The Paradise Factory. An semi-experimental piece of gay theatre that surprises, entertains, and leaves you wanting more. That would actually also be my main criticism of the piece. The resolution comes about very quickly, the show clocking in at a little over an hour. What you see is very good, but there is a slight sense that Makowski still has a more to give. Nevertheless, that’s only a lack-of-cherry on an otherwise rather good sundae. There’s plenty of ice-cream to be had. I would encourage you to take a trip down to 4th street to give it a look, it will be worth your time.
Tickets are $18 General Admission, $10 for Film/Music Participants, FREE for Theatre Festivity Participants