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Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me on Twitter at MarkFFisher, WriteAboutTheat and LimelightXTC I am a freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers. I am also editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls: A Limelight Anthology. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide.
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Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Gay in a Manger preview

Published in the Scotsman
If you were trying to irritate a devout Christian, calling your festive entertainment A Gay in a Manger would be a good place to start. Confrontation is not, however, the intention of Laurie Brown, Rosana Cade and Adrian Howells, the team behind the Arches' semi-improvised adult revue. Rather, it is to provide a home to all the waifs and strays who feel neglected by the mass of family-orientated shows that dominate the theatre schedules at this time of year.

"It's a fun play on words and it gets across the tone of the show but it certainly isn't meant to be offensive," says Cade. "You're only going to complain about it if you're homophobic – and homophobia is wrong."

She adds: "We're definitely not anti-Christian, but we are offering an alternative way of looking at Christmas. In general, Christmas is very heteronormative and capitalist, and we're trying to create something outside of that. Everything around Christmas can be so sweet and this is something that's not sweet at all."

Cade, a self-styled queer artist, and her good friend Brown are known on the gender-bending cabaret scene as Tranny and Roseannah, roles they're reviving here. Brown, meanwhile, has the extra challenge of starring by day in the Arches' festive show for younger audiences, The Night Before Christmas, and by night in this X-rated alternative. "We're doing it on the same set, which is quite funny," says Cade.

Completing the trio is Howells, best known for a string of solo performance-art shows that have explored the nature of intimacy (in one, he gave each audience member a bath in moisturising milk and essential oils). "Adrian pushes Laurie and I to be a lot darker," says Cade. "He's got a very dark sense of humour."

Described as "John Waters hosting a festive Noel’s House Party," the show promises a cosy night in at Tranny and Roseannah's where the yuletide singalongs and festive storytelling are given an extra helping of camp. A team that thinks panto isn't camp enough already is clearly hardcore.

"It's dirty, trashy camp," says Cade. "We're using references from every kind of Christmas show imaginable, which does involve the Nativity and various pantomimes, but the style is queer outrageous cabaret. You'll find everything you'd expect in a Christmas show but done in a slightly different way than normal. It's a Christmas show for people who don't want to go to a pantomime."

A Gay in a Manger, Arches, Glasgow, 12–21 December.
© Mark Fisher 2013 
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