Fringe REVIEW: Gender Euphoria @Marlborough Theatre

Gender Euphoria

James Lorien MacDonald

Marlborough Theatre

Play till May 9

GENDER Euphoria is James Lorien MacDonald’s solo stand-up show with a focus on his ideas and experiences of gender and the way it affects him, us, the people around us and what people may think (or say) about us.

Like all male stands-up’s there’s a fair bit about cock and sex but these are not the dick jokes you’re used to. James’ take on masculinity and gender is informed by the fact that he’s a transgender, gay immigrant in Finland with Canadian heritage and this give him a unique and slightly left field perception into your typical men’s stand up.

He grabs masculinity by the balls and giving them a good squeeze takes us on a journey into his own journey into masculinity. We take a peek into his past, a very funny tangent into late night You-Tube, how he made the worse lesbian in the world. There some educative serious stuff folded in too, about the Nordic eugenic past and sterilisation obsession but none of it too preachy. His observations from deep within the mysteries of the locker room, driven by insecurities, powered by raging testosterone and mounting lust are funny, full of careful and honest observations, both about his own state of mind and the reactions of others.

There are some very funny stories in this show and a fair few good lines, discussing his rampant sex drive and unfocused urge: buses, trees and furniture all turn him on, with a delicious riff about thirsting for designer Finnish furniture. His wanderings around male shame, body image and Masc. performance are surprisingly delicate but veined though with a disarming honesty that testified to the lived experience at the core of this show.

Gender Euphoria is an engaging hour of funny testimony but it could do with firming up with more materiel, his musing and tangential distractions left potentially funny avenues unexplored, and there was a cul-de-sac or two. Overall the subject matter is hardly original, a bloke talking about being a bloke, but it’s the delivery which is always essential in stand up and here James excelled, he’s honest, engaging, frank and honest enough to talk about his weaknesses which is a real strength in stand up. With a touch more polish and a pinch more material this is a winner of a fringe show. As a cis man swirling in privilege it was my pleasure to laugh with some novel insight into the anxieties and the experience of being a modern gay man done with panache.

Gender Euphoria adds its weight to a pretty impressive line-up both from Nordic performers, Gender Queer and just plain funny ones in this year’s Marlborough Fringe program. James Lorien MacDonald’s stand-up and confessional is a superb hour of honest entertainment and well worth catching if you can.

Until May 9

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