Friday, August 24, 2007

BASH'd: A Gay Rap Opera

photo: Ian Jackson

Two white gay rappers who go by the names T-Bag and Feminem: sounds like a one-joke Fringe Festival show, doesn't it? But BASH'd isn't the parody that its come-on might lead you to expect; it's exciting, trenchant musical theatre and boundlessly invigorating entertainment. Using hip-hop's naked aggression and its uncompromisingly explicit language, the all-rapped show is both a convincing, affecting gay love story and an unapologetic in-your-face rallying call for equal rights. It's also the best case I have ever seen made for the stageworthiness of this genre of music: the dope beats and rhymes in BASH'd are always in service of storytelling. So what if there are a few gay-coming-of-age cliches and who cares that the message, as befits rap music, is ultimately blunt? That matters not at all, thanks to the freshness and the vitality of the presentation. I caught the show's last scheduled Fringe Festival performance but I don't believe that New York has seen the last of this show.

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