Red and Boiling is an entertaining cabaret-style show with some serious undertones. Created by Noga Yechieli Wind and Joshua Rivas, it relates the stories of ‘queer womyn’ (sic) and non-binary individuals who deal with coming out and life thereafter.
A comedic partnership that balances the light with the dark and the sad with the humorous.
Rosay Ratcheté greets the audience passing through the entrance while bearded drag king Hasadick intimidates, in a nice way, by climbing over seats and sliding along people’s laps with questions about lesbians. A red-and-white-draped stage sets the mood for the performance. With a lip-sync opening number the drag show kicks off and establishes a structure that involves audience participation, verbatim theatre, music and extensive shadow puppetry.
The brunt of the show is based on hours of interviews with individuals from different countries, religions, ethnicities and ages. Picked out of a hat in performance, each is given a number and setting. If a member of the audience wants to share their own story at a future date it might well appear in a later performance. In that respect no two shows ever have completely the same content.
The character of Hasadick is ‘perfectly gay and perfectly Jewish’ and was encouraged by his family, who knew he was gay before he did. When he made the big statement his mother proclaimed in stereotypical manner, "Of course we knew. I don't care, all I want to know is are you hungry?". Now he lives out more traditional responses through reading what others experienced. As for the other half of the partnership, the story goes that on seeing her shadow appear on the wall one day, while sipping on pink wine and eating salami, she immediately fell in love with it. One day, on a journey she met Hasadick and fell in love with him too. They are now assisted in their cycle of sagas by Alex Mitchel, about whom nothing has been revealed.
The light-hearted revelry provides relief from the intensity of the stories which are often of despair but are frequently tinged with hope. It’s an ambitious format that works to a point. Vocal clarity is sometimes lost in the verbatim passages told from the side of the stage and the images are not always sufficiently meaningful as to concentrate the mind, though some are very clever.
That said, the striking duo forms a comedic partnership that balances the light with the dark and the sad with the humorous. Red and Boiling is presented as part of the CalArts Festival Theater programme at Venue 13. This show is anything but a drag.