For those of us that grew up gay in a small town, we know the hardships. But imagine being gay AND the only black person. Berend McKenzie’s one-man show Nggrfg gives us a peak into his world as he grows up in Northern Alberta with his adopted white family.
As a series of monologues, McKenzie immerses his audience into a world that is at times very touching and at others very, very funny. Take the his date disaster as an example. As McKenzie’s character “Buddy” dresses to the nines complete with eye-liner and his coveted Michael Jackson Thriller jacket, true to McKenzie’s skill in both his written word (he is also playwright), his acting and the careful direction of Dennis Simpson, other than the eye-liner it is only our imaginations that are fully engaged as he vividly describes the ensemble.
Other memorable moments include his audition for a role of gangsta where he proclaims himself as the “whitest guy here” and one of the final scenes where he confronts the school bully which managed to illicit a tear.
As a commentary on the reclamation of the words “nigger” and “fag” the show does fall short. While being wholly immersed in McKenzie’s world in these 60 short minutes was reason enough to enjoy the show, I must admit to being slightly disappointed that there was very little exploration of this theme, especially given the piece’s rather provacative title.
Despite this small disappointment though, Nggrfg is an entertaining and touching piece of theatre and deserving of its Fringe buzz. With only three more performances left, don’t miss this one.
Vancouver Interntional Fringe Festival
Waterfront Theatre, Granville Island
Wednesday, September 16 @ 8:30pm
Friday, September 18 @ 10:35pm
Sunday, September 20 @ 8:45pm
A riotous and poignant one-man tour-de-force about being black and gay in a world that doesn’t have room for either. nggrfg is four revealing and hilarious vignettes that tell the story of a queer black kid finding his way through the minefield of straight white Canada. From the creator of the smash fringe hit Get Off The Cross, Mary.