I liked the way that the Race Card and the transgender bathroom bill topics were handled in particular. For the Race Card skit, I feel like it was a really successful example of “show, not tell” to prove a point. And the reason why I think it works so well is one of the most uncomfortable parts of the act for me – that it leverages the fact that we have a cultural empathy gap for people of color and the audience is a lot more likely to identify with and empathize with the white guy. I think that there’s two layers to the act – the first is to point out the way that people are treated differently and that it’s messed up, and the second is to make the audience look inward and question whether or not they would have cared if the roles hadn’t been reversed.
The song about the transgender bathroom bill issue was successful to me just because it humanized the people affected by that kind of legislation. It was an act that pointed out who was affected, what they’re thinking, and how ridiculous it is to regulate such a thing. On top of that, I liked that the singer was dressed in a way that suggested a man in woman’s clothing – the boogeyman that’s being used to try to pass this legislation – and he still only cares about finding a place to pee.
I enjoyed all the burlesque numbers – I think they were well executed and a joy to watch. I think that 4 out of 5 Male Doctors Agree and Three Piece Fat Suit stood out in communicating body positivity in a fun way. Three Piece Fat Suit especially was successful in showing a woman being comfortable in her own skin, with feeling beautiful, and with showing the audience that it’s ok to perceive her as beautiful.
And I just want to say that Trump closing the Fascist Follies with a song was poetic.
What I didn't like
I feel like sometimes the show was heavy-handed…depending on who the intended audience is. So what that means is that I remember thinking a few times “This is designed to speak to people who already feel the same way. It will alienate people who do not feel the same way, and that means that they will reject this way of looking at the issue.” This may not be relevant to your audience (who’s likely to show up?), but I think it’s important to keep in mind the perspective of someone on the opposite side of an issue if you want to open a dialogue and affect the way they think about it. It doesn’t matter how intelligent or right your argument is if the person you’re talking to gets defensive and shuts down right away. The place where I felt this happened in particular was the opening act about gun control. Characterizing a gun as a total sleazy, awful, cruel being that gets off on killing will please people who have strong negative feelings about guns and will piss off people who like or even are neutral in their feelings about guns, which means that the people who need to hear the message aren’t going to be listening. It’s not an argument, it’s an emotional reaction that completely overshadows and obscures the main point, which is very thoughtful and very important: a gun is a tool with no usefulness – it is only used to kill. What is our relationship to a tool like that? What do we do with it? Why do we keep tools that only have the purpose to harm?
On the technical side, I think it would help if the guitar player was mic’d. I saw this show during the preview, so I don’t know if it was addressed, but I couldn’t hear half of the words to the songs because the guitar overwhelmed his voice most of the time. It was frustrating to miss so much of the message, especially because I enjoyed the parts that I could make out and wanted to understand the whole piece.
My overall impression
The Wrong Show is part theater and part burlesque show. It alternates between skits, songs, and dance numbers that address some extremely relevant and uncomfortable topics with humor and thoughtfulness. Between each act, a glamorous showgirl holds up a card telling us which thing that we don’t want to talk about is about to take the stage. It’s a must-see purely for the walk-in vagina (4 out of 5 Male Doctors Agree), the Freaky Friday Race Card skit, the Three Piece Fat Suit and the Fascist Follies. Yes, I know it’s uncomfortable. But it’s uncomfortable in a good way.