Queen City Theatre Company (QCTC) continues its mission of spreading acceptance with yet another wonderfully-composed theatrical performance. “Southern Baptist Sissies” was written by Del Shores, a gay director, playwright and native of Texas, where the play is set from 1979 to 2000 in a church called Calvary Baptist.
While maintaining its form as a comedy, “Sissies” directly addresses issues of self-hatred, suicide and repression among gay people. Though it acknowledges the good intentions of church lay people, the play pointedly charges religious fanaticism with crimes of hatred for its role in gay bashing. Unlike many other plays, including those performed by QCTC, “Sissies” speaks its meaning very plainly. To no discredit of the script or production, there are no clever analogies nor is there complicated symbolism; its meaning is appropriately obvious.
On the cover
Check out this issue’s cover story on “Southern Baptist Sissies”: ‘Sissies’ sends message of hope
“Sissies” is also direct in addressing what many think is the focal point of the argument over the morality of homosexuality — the nature vs. nurture argument. Stated simply, apparently for the ignorant, whether bigoted or not, being gay is not a choice.
But “Sissies” certainly goes further than just “preaching to the choir” about what we already know of bigotry and hate. In addition to offering some introspection to the gay community, the play does have at its core a very poignant message that anyone can appreciate, and this message is delivered very well.
Though the message and basic plot are relatively simple, the play features deep, complex characters who struggle through unique journeys that most people, gay or straight, can relate to in some way. Alienation, loneliness, fear, regret and hope all affect these characters’ lives.
Aside from being gravely serious at many times, it is a comedy and it is very funny. Benny (Steven Martin) in particular provides a great deal of the comedic relief even in the more somber scenes. Martin also played Jack in QCTC’s earlier production of “Reefer Madness” and he again nails his character. As excellent as Martin was playing the pusher man, his performance of a character from the opposite end of a spectrum, a fabulous singing drag queen, is equally impressive.
The progression of the story is slow at times, but that’s completely overshadowed by the successes of the play’s more important ambitions. “Sissies” does everything it sets out to do. It will make you smile and laugh during the funny scenes and you will choke up during the tragically sad moments.