Unsex’d Calgary Sun Review: Slick, clever and unapologetically crass

Calgary Sun Review by Louis B. Hobson, October 31, 2013

Courtesy Jonathan Brower

I know why Jay Whitehead and Daniel Jude called their campy little comedy currently playing in the EPCOR Centre’s Motel Theatre Unsex’d.

Lady Macbeth asks the dark powers to unsex her or take away her sensitive nature so she can prompt her husband to murder King Duncan.

The boy-players in Elizabethan theatre were figuratively unsexed so they could play female roles and that must have had a profound influence on their psyches.

I was hoping Whitehead and Judes’ play would explore this theme but they are far more concerned with bleeding as many base and outrageous laughs as possible from the idea of Wilbur (Whitehead doing double duty) an aging drag queen losing his fame and fortune to Humphrey (Adam Beauchesne) a younger, more handsome upstart.

As I laughed uproariously for much of Unsex’d’s 70-minute running time, I thought a far more accurate title for the show would be All About Humphrey since so much of it parallels the Bette Davis film All About Eve and the fact Whitehead is channelling Davis in his performance.

In his blonde Juliet wig, Whitehead was a dead ringer for Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane and that is one of the paramount questions in Unsex’d.

We get to watch as Wilbur comes to the sad realization that the old grey mare ain’t what he used to be but he’s not about to go gentle into that good night.

Whitehead does a great deal of railing, something Davis also did in her final years making his a tour de force grand guignol performance and his finest moment is when he tones down to admit that what will always give Humphrey an edge is the fact the boy will always be younger.

Beauchesne takes Humphrey from a star struck innocent to a hesitant superstar who still feels a twinge of gratitude for his mentor.

In his burlesque approach to the script, director Richie Wilcox keeps the barrage of jokes firing with machine gun force and accuracy eliciting as many groans as guffaws.

This is one slick, frenetic, clever and unapologetically crass evening of low brow reimagining of Elizabethan morals and mores.


Third Street Theatre & Theatre Outre at Motel Theatre until Nov. 2

Starring Jay Whitehead and Adam Beauchesne

* * * 1/2 (out of five)

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