On August 12, I hit the Village Theatre for a performance of Chris Craddock and Nathan Cuckow’s Bash’d: A Gay Rap Opera. I must admit, the title is what attracted me to this production, because the words Gay, Rap, and Opera don’t appear in the same sentence very often. In this case they go together brilliantly. Craddock and Cuckow (with help from music coordinator, Aaron Macri) have constructed a smart, funny and affecting piece of theater told entirely through the rap medium. Their rhymes are tight, clever, refreshingly out of the closet and above all, successful in conveying the tragic story that is the foundation for Bash’d. The show opens with Craddock (a.k.a. T-Bag) and Cuckow (a.k.a. Feminem) donning angel wings and encouraging all the “real faggots” to “limp their wrists in the air.” After this in-your-face introduction, the pair go on to narrate a story about two “star-crossed lovers” named Dylan and Jack who meet in a gay club, fall in love, get married (the show takes place in Canada, right after gay marriage was legalized) and seem primed to live happily every after, until, one night, Jack is gay-bashed by a gang of straights. Angered and frustrated by the police and the community’s failure to do anything about it, Dylan seeks revenge on his own terms.
Throughout the show, these two performers play every character from the lovers to their parents to the various faces that occupy the gay club scene. Both actors give an intensely energetic and convincing performance in every role they assume, eliciting both laughs and tears from the audience sometimes within the same line. Utilizing humor and their incredible “gift of gab” they put across an anti-hate message that is poignant without being preachy. The most effective moment in the entire show comes at the conclusion, when Craddock and Cuckow step forward and offer up shout outs of “Rest in Peace” to those who have been killed as a result of being gay-bashed. Overall, I left the theater thoroughly entertained and affected by this piece and would recommend it to not only gays, rap fans, or theater aficionados, but anyone who enjoys a great piece of storytelling.