Ginger Nation

Canadian Shawn Hitchins bounces onto the stage with puppy-like energy, rushing straight into a 'blond, brunette and a ginger' joke to make the point that, as 'a person of primary colour', he knows there's genuine prejudice out there. Not least the major sperm bank in Denmark which recently announced it was no longer taking sperm from ginger-haired men, allegedly because of a 'lack of demand' for that particular 'product'.

Hitchins, as it soon becomes clear, is ginger and proud; days earlier, he'd organised an ad hoc Ginger Pride march in the city centre, attracting far more media attention than the annual LGBT Pride march held at the same time in Glasgow (but that's the Fringe for you). So it's hardly surprising that much of his comic material is rooted in the 'gingerism' he has experienced in life, as well as the startling sense of anonymity he experienced the first time he arrived in Scotland. Yet the crux of Hitchins' show is actually far more personal than the colour of his hair. Three years ago, a lesbian couple wanting to start a family asked him to be their sperm donor. Annoyingly grateful to be asked and incredibly pleased by his hitherto unrecognised virility (as the prospective mother became pregnant on the first attempt), Hitchins successfully plays with some pretty grandiose plans for his personal global campaign to repopulate the world with redheads–creating his titular Ginger Nation.

Given Hitchins' determination to remain a 'gold-star' gay (ie, one who has never slept with a woman), he's able to 'milk' plenty of comedy from the necessarily complicated and socially awkward procedures involved in getting some sperm from a gay man to an expectant lesbian (including the remarkably non-erotic distractions arising from certain women's ideas about appropriate bathroom decoration). Yet, while any stand-up worth their sodium chloride is able to distill comedy from what life gives them, Hitchins is a brave enough performer to not just hit the audience with a genuine emotional blinder, but also to successfully pull them back into the safety of laughter afterwards.

Unlike the birth of a child, this show won't change your life. It remains, however, a sharply observed, delightful delivered and wonderfully humane hour in the company of someone who has taken to heart a few important life lessons along the way.

Reviews by Paul F Cockburn

Multiple Venues

Nests

★★★
Dundee Rep Theatre / Macrobert Arts Centre

The Yellow on the Broom

★★★
Underbelly, Bristo Square

Tom Neenan: It's Always Infinity

★★★★
Assembly George Square Studios

Police Cops in Space

★★★★★
Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre

Rik Carranza: Still a Fan

★★★★
Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre

Marmite

★★★★

Performances

The Blurb

Shawn Hitchins' fiery account as a sperm donor is hilarious and heartfelt. On his personal mission to repopulate the earth with redheads, Hitchins discovers what it means to be ginger and proud. 'A one-man flash mob' (TheStar.com). www.shawnhitchins.com