Lesbians for Thespians: Can Gay Adaptations Save Theatre?

Caroline Kava’s lesbian adaptation of Hedda Gabler, starring Jennie Eisenhower, opened last night at Philly’s Mauckingbird Theatre Company. The show puts a new twist on the classic Henrik Ibsen proto-feminist drama by making Hedda’s husband’s rival into a woman. If past reviews of Mauckingbird’s performances are any indication, it’ll be a show to see.

Hedda Gabler’s always been considered to be one of the more fucked-up protagonists in the theatrical canon (she’s called ‘the female Hamlet’ and considered one of the great roles for stage actors) and Kava’s adaptation turns her into a lesbian who marries a man for security only to meet her husband’s rival, Miss Eilert Lovborg, a brilliant scholar who lives her life openly. Jealousy consumes Hedda and soon enough there’s gun play, betrayal and tragedy.

With news that the Village Voice and L.A. Weekly have eliminated their theater editors and Broadway shows are cutting back as a result of the Global Financial Apocalypse, Mauckingbird Theatre (which last season staged an all-male Romeo & Juliet) is doubling down on the one audience the Fabulous Invalid can always count on: The gehs.

What other plays are ripe for homo-adaptations? Let’s go to the listicle!

Lysistrata
Aristophanes classic anti-war comedy tells the story of how all the women of Ancient Greece, fed up with the men-folks’ penchant for endless war, sequester themselves on top of the Acropolis and refuse to have sex until the men agree to a lasting peace. While some women try to sneak off to their husband’s, Lysistrata holds them together until the men begin to experience physical pain from the lack of sex (masturbation having not been invented yet) and relent. And then everyone gets what they want in the end (pun intended).

The Gay Adaption: Set in modern day Chelsea, all of 8th Avenue’s bottoms finally tire of being forced to put-up with the tops pseudo-macho stylings (read: Sunday Night football) and refuse to have sex again until they all agree to take them to the Barney’s Warehouse sale. The problem with this adaptation is that once all the bottoms band together, they realize there are no tops to be had, a massive orgy ensues.

The Review: “Horribly offensive, but the three-hour sex scene is great!”

King Lear
Shakespeare’s tragic story of a foolhardy king who divides his country among his two spoiled, obsequious daughters, while cutting his one faithful and honest daughter, Cordelia, out of the will because she wouldn’t kiss his ass, is perhaps the Bard’s greatest work. After being kicked to the curb by his selfish daughters and homeless, crazed Lear finally learns the meaning of true familial love when Cordelia comes to his rescue; not because he is her king, but because he is her father.

The Gay Adaptation: King Queer disowns his daughter after she declares her love, both for him and for the Queen of France, who she is to marry. Jealous of her divided love, King Queer tosses her from the kingdom, disclaiming “all my paternal care, propinquity and property of blood. And as a stranger to my heart and me hold thee from this forever.” The straight daughters treat the self-dethroned king like crap and it’s only at the end, when Cordelia and the Queen of France invite him to live with them in their cottage on the Russian River, that King Queer learns the error of his homophobic ways.

The Review: “The decision to put Sean Hayes in the role of The Fool is an act of casting genius.”

Waiting for Godot
Samuel Beckett’s absurdist, vaudeville-influenced meditation on the essential meaningless of life (or something) features two blokes in bowlers bickering under a tree by a country road for hours as they wait for some guy named Godot to show up. Of course, he never does.

The Gay Adaptation: To be fair, the relationship between Vladimir and Estragon is pretty homoerotic to begin with. Beckett scholar Peter Boxall wrote of the duo that “they bicker, they embrace each other, they depend upon each other […. T]hey might be thought of as a married couple.” It’s this idea that inspires Waiting for Rev. Gaydot, in which boyfriends Vladimir and Estragon stand at the altar for two hours, waiting for the Rev. Gaydot to pronounce them husband’s. Of course, he never shows.

The Review: “Hey, for a made-up idea pulled out of some gay blogger’s ass, this show is pretty good!”