Monday, August 2, 2021

Even If We Suck At It

Pivotal moments call us to dig deeper, to draw on inner strength we may not even know we possess.  We throw ourselves into the fire knowing we may get burned. And we would do it over and over again. Because some moments call us to love fiercely. Even if we suck at it.

For Trisha Lee (Marie Lucas) that moment comes when the young, widowed mother is challenged by her daughter, Jolene, in ways that cause Trisha to question everything she knows to be true. Jolene, who sports all black clothing with pink hair, informs her mom that she isn't a girl. At least not all girl. She's also part boy. "Jo" is gender queer - a revelation that will upend everything in Trisha's life. 

Richmond Triangle Players returns to theatre with a sucker punch to the gut with The Pink Unicorn, brilliantly directed by Raja Benz who takes Eliser Forier Edie's play, a masterfully written piece of LGBTQIA activism,  and creates a moving, thought-provoking, hopeful and gorgeous work of art. 

Marie Lucas is breathtaking in her role as the grieving mom who takes on an entire town in order to advocate for her child whose coming out has lasting implications for the small Texas town.

Lucas is funny and poignant with a perfect range of emotion. Every step of the way I was rooting for the courageous mama bear learning how to best love her cub. Anything, including accepting  that the child she knew as a little girl with a pink unicorn, is their own person, with their own truth. 

Confronting the alphabet soup that is the LGBTQIA umbrella is daunting. Trisha vacillates from terrified and angry to bewildered and ultimately curious and accepting. We learn with Trisha as she educates herself in personal pronouns, gender identities, marginalization, advocacy, and humanity. 

                                                                Photo Credit: John MacLellan

Ms. Lucas wears overalls, her hair in braids and tied with a bandana. Around her waist is a tool belt with colored chalk she uses to fill in the chalkboard that provides the three walls of the set.  As she narrates Trisha's story, she creates a mural depicting a small town woman learning the world is just a bit bigger and more colorful than the neat and tidy box she's always known.  

In the end, all that matters is love. It's the bottom line.  In  protecting and loving Jo as fiercely as she can, Trisha takes on her bigoted church, her narrow-minded mother and becomes a reluctant champion of equal rights. Her love is messy. She gets things wrong. She sometimes "sucks" at it. Sometimes it's a snot-nosed, drunken weep fest at the local bar. Other times it is questioning a god who would take her husband, leaving her to navigate uncharted territory alone.

The lights, the sound, the costuming all enhance what is at its core a beautiful story of a woman learning to expand her worldview to see her child as they are.

The Pink Unicorn is a script I wish I'd written. In Benz's extraordinarily talented hands, with Lucas' gripping performance, The Pink Unicorn is one of the best shows I've seen in a very long time, from a theatre that is often known for light-hearted and fun musicals and cabaret fare. This is a serious piece that leaves no doubt that RTP isn't just about getting laughs, that they take seriously their mission to produce "transformational" theatre "rooted in LGBTQ+ experiences, and supporting and celebrating the development of queer artistry."

We are not called to be perfect. We are called to show up, to grow, to rise above our limited worldview. And we are called to love - imperfectly. 

Even if we suck at it.

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