“Adept,” writes reviewer Brendan Kiley, is a “ small, delightfully bonkers, comedy-plus-poetry, intimate-theater marvel.” It’s on stage through Jan. 28.
Last Friday night, while hundreds of protestors marched up Pike Street on Capitol Hill, chanting slogans against the inauguration of President Trump, a gently insistent man working the door at Gay City’s Theater’s small, 75-seat room kept asking people walking through: “May I sniff you?”
The protest outside was about an international issue (our next presidential administration) while the sniffing inside was about an individual issue (whether any audience members might become ill due to strong colognes or perfumes) before “Adept: A Sick & Disabled LGBTQ Show.” The sniffing, said Gay City’s arts director Tara Hardy, was the latest in the theater’s “strengthened fragrance-free policy.”
It was a gesture of the theater’s policy of “radical hospitality” — making everyone feel as welcome as possible, including free tickets (if folks can’t pay for them) and wheelchair-friendly restrooms.
‘Adept: A Sick & Disabled LGBTQ Show’
Through Jan. 28, Gay City Arts, 517 E. Pike St., Seattle; $12-$20 (www.gaycity.org).
Once everyone had been properly sniffed, “Adept” began. It was a small, delightfully bonkers, comedy-plus-poetry, intimate-theater marvel that was self-aware enough to focus on the adversites of its performers — including everything from childhood trauma to severe medical issues — but refuse any steps towards the maudlin.
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“Adept” is by and for those traditionally considered outsiders; as hosts Fatima Arain and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Smarasinha said during their introduction to the show: “We’re the disabled queers they couldn’t kill!”
While protesters chanted outside, the rest of the night was a joyride of pain. Arain made jokes about being “a chronically sick queer-do” while Gay City arts director Tara Hardy read a piece that began with a dose of invective against the “chronically healthy” who “whine on social media about having a really bad cold. I, as a chronically ill person think, you’re so sick? Yeah, that’s a little like saying you’re homeless because your shit’s in a moving truck and you’re en route to your shiny, new condo.”
The whole evening of “Adept” is a powerhouse, from the poetry of Hardy to the strange comedy of Piepzna-Smarasinha to the music of Nic Masangkay, whose tweaky synth-pop with overlaid vocals is in the style of Reggie Watts.
“Anyone else having a super-crappy day or week?” Masangkay asked at the top of the bit. A few audience members hooted.
“OK. Then forget yourself with me.”
And the room did, for just a few minutes.